The fact that quad bike use is dangerous needs a fresh communication strategy 1

Dr Tony Lower of the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety has released new information about deaths and injuries associated with quad bike use in Australia for 2011. His report lists media reports that

“There were at least 23 quad bike related fatalities and 56 major injuries, many of which are likely to be life‐changing…”

He also continues to keep pressure on the quad bike manufacturers:

“It is an absolute insult to quad bike users and particularly to those families that have lost loved ones in rollovers that the manufacturers and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) simply continue to defend the indefensible. There is an urgent need to address this issue through better design of the quad bikes themselves and also ensuring crush protection devices are fitted”

But the severity of the risk and potential consequences of using quad bikes is well established.  This article is going to look at a couple of other issues raised by Dr Lower’s media release (not yet available online) and the Media Monitors report. More…

Safety profession needs to counter the influence of the red tape ideologues 7

Australia’s safety profession has a considerable challenge over the next few years, one for which it seems to be poorly prepared.  The challenge comes not from new occupational health and safety (OHS) laws or new hazards but from entrenched ideologies.  As the country moves to an increasing political conservatism, safety needs to prove it is as important as other issues, such as productivity and job creation,  by vying for political and corporate attention.

The challenge  is that the Australian conservative political parties are ideologically opposed to almost ANY laws that could possibly impede economic growth and they believe that occupational health and safety laws impede growth by disrupting work and adding unnecessary operational costs.  This is not the reality but the ideology is so ingrained into conservative politics that the safety profession will gain very little traction in the next few years without a strategy to contest this ideological fantasy.

The conservative Liberal Government in Victoria forestalled introduction of the model Work Health and Safety laws to undertake an assessment of the economic impacts of the laws on the State’s businesses, despite an assessment having already occurred through the regulatory impact process.  The review had a tenuous justification but served the political purpose of distancing the conservative politicians in Victoria from the Labor Party that is in power federally.  The review also plays to its traditional business sector supporters indicating that the Liberal Party takes potential regulatory impositions seriously.  It is believed the report of the review undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers is now with the Victorian Government for its consideration.

Inductions, technology and effectiveness 17

In relation to the new harmonised laws in Australia Amy Towers recently stated in a media release that

“Many employers still haven’t got it quite right. While most have an understanding of their new health and safety responsibilities, we’re finding the practices they do have in place don’t sufficiently meet the new compliance requirements – particularly for managing temporary or contracting staff…”

This is no great surprise.  While reviewing the compliance with incoming legislation, many law firms have similarly found that clients were not compliant with existing OHS laws.

Towers goes on to say that “businesses are most at risk of non-compliance in these areas:

  • Lack of evidence regarding plans to consult, coordinate and communicate with multiple parties
  • Failing to meet new due diligence requirements as an ‘Officer’
  • Flawed inductions” More…

Innovative thinking needed if Australia is to save lives and improve the economy 4

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) advocates for workers’ rights and entitlements with occupational safety being one of those entitlements but sometimes the safety message from ACTU is a little narrow.

On 14 March 2012, the ACTU issued a media release responding to the release of important workplace safety data by Safe Work Australia.  The release quotes ACTU President Ged Kearney emphasising very important data:

“This report has found that the cost of each workplace incident is around $99,100 and of this workers pay $73,300, the community $20,800 and employers $5100…”


“We think we are a clever country but it isn’t so smart to forgo almost 5% of our nation’s GDP on the cost of preventable workplace injury and illness…”

But what does the ACTU propose to address this economic cost of poor safety management? More…

New Workers’ Memorial announced for Australia 10

In May 2011, the Australian Government announced the development of a National Worker’s Memorial.  The winning design, selected by an independent jury from a competitive pool of 26 entries, was announced in Canberra this evening.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten announced that Architects Johnson Pilton Walker have been awarded the task.  In a media statement Shorten said that

 “The memorial will honour and pay tribute to all working Australians who have died as a result of work-related accidents, incidents and disease… It will also provide an important focal point for the national commemoration of Workers’ Memorial Day, recognised internationally on 28 April each year.” More…