The Challenges of Future Workplaces – Part 1

This article is part one of an edited version of a keynote presentation I made at the a special WHS Inspectors Forum organised by WorkSafe Tasmania.  The audience comprised inspectors from around Australia and New Zealand.  I was asked to be provocative and challenging so posed some questions to the audience about how occupational health and safety (OHS) is managed, regulated and inspected.

The audio of the presentation is available at SoundCloud and Podbean and below.

 “The purpose of this session is to provide insight into the future challenges for work health and safety regulators due to changes in the nature of work, the workforce, supply chains, and the social and political environments, and encourage inspectors to consider how the way they do their work may need to change to meet these challenges.”

Be Critical

I encourage you all to analyse what you say, what you are told, what you do and how you do it.  Too often we accept information and our situations uncritically and I want you to question everything, including what you read in this article.

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What is the “All Victorians Infrastructure Fund”?

ON 22 November 2018, two days before the State Election the Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance released a document called the “Release of costing of election commitment“.  Most of the media attention was on the removal of a self-imposed “debt cap” by Treasurer, Tim Pallas, but there is an interesting footnote that seems to involve using some of WorkSafe Victoria’s premium income as a dividend to fund infrastructure.

Attachment A – “Summary of Labor’s 2018 Election Commitments” – lists the following table (figures are in millions):

Footnote 3 says:

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Productivity Commission sets stage for inquiry into mental health

The Australian Government has released the terms of reference into its Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health.  The inquiry has broad aims that clearly include occupational health and safety (OHS) and may set some evidence challenges for some of those in the workplace wellbeing sector:

“It will look at how governments across Australia, employers, professional and community groups in healthcare, education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.” (emphasis added)

The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP has written that

“the Commission should consider the role of mental health in supporting economic participation, enhancing productivity and economic growth.”

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What will the Liberal/National coalition do for Victoria on OHS?

The Victorian Liberal/National Coalition’s election platform is available on-line, or at least an outline is.  On 21 November 2018 a couple of days out from the State Election, Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy, released the Coalition’s 6-page plan for their first 100 days in office, should they win on Saturday.

The State Platform of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia makes no mention of occupational health and safety (OHS) but there are many beliefs that would be dramatically affected if OHS is not managed appropriately. 

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Greens OHS Update

Free Access

Further to this morning’s article, the Victorian Greens provided the following information:

“The Greens believe that:

  • Every employee deserves to be safe in the workplace
  • Going to work should not involve putting lives at risk
  • Harsh penalties should be in place to deter employers from cutting corners on workplace safety
  • The law must provide justice for victims and families should preventable accidents occur in the workplace

Earlier this year, Nina Springle MP called on the Victorian Government to introduce corporate and industrial manslaughter laws. You can read more about it in the link below:

https://greens.org.au/vic/news/media-release/keeping-victorians-safe-work

In other states around Australia, the Greens have continually been strong advocates for industrial manslaughter laws.”

Kevin Jones