Recently the Victorian Women Lawyers conducted a seminar into the outcomes of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence. SafetyAtWorkBlog attended even though the topic seems, initially, to have a tenuous link to occupational health and safety (OHS). Family violence is relevant to OHS through its influence on workplace mental ill-health, productivity and the need for cultural change.
The guest speakers included Rob Hulls, Rosie Batty, and Antoinette Braybrook (pictured).
Progress needs Trust
Batty stated early in the seminar that we are a “victim-blaming society”where victims do not know who they can trust and therefore hesitate to raise issues of abuse or injustice. The importance of trust in establishing a functional workplace culture has been discussed elsewhere. Raising issues with managers or authorities is a crucial element of OHS law based on the assumption that the issues will be taken seriously and be controlled to some degree; an assumption that varies with each workplace.
Batty also said that
“unless we see perpetrators being held accountable, why would you want to come forward and expose yourself, be vulnerable and unsafe?”
Accountability is a crucial element of establishing and maintaining a suitable workplace safety culture as reinforces fairness and justice. More…
The Spring 2016 edition of National Safety magazine includes a cover story on leadership written by me. In it John Lacey insists that safety leadership begins at the top. This position is supported by many business and occupational health and safety (OHS) advocates but this seems to me to be based on a misunderstanding of leadership.
In response to a question about leadership in small- to medium-sized businesses, Lacey said that leadership “applies to all”: More…
When talking about workplace health and safety there is almost always questions about why one type of workplace hazard is given more priority than others. This is most common in discussing the neglect of mental health and psychosocial issues in comparison to incidents that result in physical injury or death. The reasons given are almost always social ones, external to the workplace. A commentary in The Guardian newspaper for 1 November 2016 by David Conn adds another reason. More…
As Australia’s Safe Work Month closes, the media is focussed on the four fatalities at Dreamworld theme park in Queensland. That situation is complicated as, although the incident is being investigated partly under Work Health and Safety laws, the decedents were visitors to the workplace. On the other side of the continent in Perth, prior to the Dreamworld incident, was another workplace fatality, this time of a worker. Her death was no less tragic and deserves not to be forgotten, particularly as it links to other occupational health and safety (OHS) and labour issues.
According to the West Australian newspaper for October 12 2016:
“Marianka Heumann, who was on a working holiday in Australia and had been employed at the site for three months, fell 13 storeys down a ventilation shaft at the Finbar and Hanssen development on Adelaide Terrace on Monday afternoon. She was rushed to hospital but could not be saved.”
Following, ostensibly, the Four Corners exposé of labour hire exploitation in Australia last year, the Victorian Government established an inquiry. That Inquiry’s final report has been released with lots of recommendations, several pertaining to occupational health and safety (OHS). The Government’s media release response is HERE.
The main recommendations related to OHS are:
I recommend that the Model Work Health and Safety Act approach to regulating labour hire relationships be adopted in Victoria. In the absence of Victoria adopting wholesale the approach under the model laws, I recommend that Victoria adapt an approach which matches the substantive provisions under the model laws in this regard.