Australian lawyers comment on Brodie’s Law

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Clayton Utz lawyers have looked at Victoria’s new bullying-related law changes for their relevance to workplace safety management and have found the following.

Is this an issue for employers?

Yes and no.

Theoretically, even before these proposed amendments, certain types of workplace bullying already fell within the definition of stalking.  In one sense, therefore, this doesn’t change the situation much – employers already had the potential problem of, for example, dealing with keeping apart at work a victim and stalker subject to an intervention order.

In another sense, this is clearly an important change.  More types of workplace bullying are now criminalised, and public awareness of bullying issues will certainly have been increased by the publicity surrounding this Bill.  We can therefore expect a rise in complaints and the number of victims coming forward, and not just in Victoria, as other States and Territories have stalking laws that could cover at least some types of workplace bullying.”

Clearly the awareness of bullying in the workplace is already high but these laws are likely to make the management of this issue more complex and and challenging. Continue reading “Australian lawyers comment on Brodie’s Law”

South Australia is the first to table a new WHS bill

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The South Australian Parliament will be the first in Australia to be presented with a Work Health and Safety Bill based on the model National OHS laws. The Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 will be tabled in parliament on 7 April 2011, according to a media release from the South Australian Minister for Industrial Relations, Bernard Finnigan.

Finnigan sees great advantages in the bill:

“Harmonised work health and safety laws will slash red tape for business operators while maintaining a high level of protection for employees,” he said. “It will also provide for greater labour mobility, with training and licences recognised across states and territories.

Organisations will have to comply with just one set of laws regardless of the number of states or territories in which they operate, thereby reducing their compliance costs. Ultimately it means greater certainty for employers and enhanced safety protection for workers.”

There remains some dispute about the optimism that Finnigan shares with many other harmonisation advocates but the validity of the optimism will only be assessed through hindsight.

Kevin Jones

Update 8 April 2011

The Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 is now available online with an FAQ site by SafeWorkSA.

Beware OHS statistics quoted in media releases

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On 6 April 2011, at the Safety In Action conference in Melbourne, the Safety Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Management released the findings of their 2011 Business Survey.  The 2010 survey was discussed in an earlier blog article.

SafetyAtWorkBlog was allowed to see a version of the survey results prior to their public release next week but according to the media release of 6 April:

“More than 40 per cent (41%) of the occupational health and safety (OHS) personnel surveyed did not believe their organisation had a ‘well entrenched OHS culture.’ That view was shared by a quarter of human resources (HR) personnel and senior managers involved in the survey. In contrast, just 11 per cent of CEOs and Board members held that view.

Furthermore, almost half of OHS personnel (49%) who participated in the survey believed that efforts to minimise Continue reading “Beware OHS statistics quoted in media releases”

Brodie Panlock – the catalyst for new bullying/stalking laws

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Brodie’s Law” is gaining considerable attention in the Victorian newspapers in anticipation of the introduction of the Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2011 in Parliament but it may be unreasonable to label these changes “Brodie’s Law” as, although Brodie Panlock’s suicide and the related court actions were the catalyst for the Bill, the proposed Bill is much broader than workplace bullying and, in many ways, focuses more on stalking than bullying, if there can be a differentiation.

The draft bill will broaden the existing offence of stalking in the Crimes Act to capture types of bullying behaviour and are likely to expand the types of  environments in which such bullying can occur. Continue reading “Brodie Panlock – the catalyst for new bullying/stalking laws”

Is this how safety should be promoted?

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One of the first OHS trade exhibitions for 2011 in Australia starts today.  Exhibitions like Safety In Action are the best opportunities for many health and safety professionals, representatives and students to update their product knowledge.  It is usually here where one finds out about non-steel capped safety footwear, new fall harnesses or the latest interlock devices.  But do these innovative products needs to be promoted by scantily clad women as in the picture on the right?

This has been a constant annoyance at trade exhibitions for some time and, in fact, some exhibitions in Australia in 2010 received complaints about this type of promotional strategy.  Scantily clad women do attract the attention of potential clients, particularly in male-dominated industries, but there is considerable debate about whether the strategy promotes the product or the breasts. Continue reading “Is this how safety should be promoted?”