CEO changes in Australian OHS

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As safety professionals start to return to work in Australia after their Summer break, speculation for 2010 increases.

Many are wondering who will replace John Merritt as the executive Director of WorkSafe Victoria?  The appointment process is likely to take a couple of months but there are several possible candidates.

One could be Julia Davison of WorkCover South Australia.  On 15 January 2010 the chair of the WorkCover SA board, Philip Bentley, informed the IR Minister that Davison will be leaving her CEO position in mid-2010.  The timing is good. Continue reading “CEO changes in Australian OHS”

Politics and safety in California

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Workplace safety, as is any legislation, is subjected to the political whims and decisions of whichever political party is in power at the time.  In Australia, John Howard’s conservative government almost halved the already meagre budget of the National OHS Commission, stopping many of the programs of national OHS uniformity that are now being resurrected by the Labor Government of Kevin Rudd.

On 14 January 2010 an investigative report into the operation of Cal-OSHA by KCET says that there was a marked change in the enforcement policies of Cal-OSHA shortly after the election of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California. Continue reading “Politics and safety in California”

Changing the OHS guard

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John Merritt is leaving WorkSafe Victoria to head up the Environmental Protection Authority.  Nothing special in such a move as such progression is part of many senior executive public servant’s career plans.  But Victoria’s politicians have started to use this change for political point-scoring on the basis that Merritt is married to Victorian parliamentarian, Maxine Morand.

This is unfortunate but not surprising.  The political argy-bargy implies that John Merritt is undeserving of his new appointment and this is not the case.

I have met John Merritt over a number of years and from before he became the executive director of WorkSafe in 2001.  During his time with the National Safety Council of Australia, there was an air of optimism in this moribund organisation, the same air he brought to WorkSafe.  I interviewed him regularly

Continue reading “Changing the OHS guard”

Shipbreaking Explosion

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In September 2009 several workers were killed and burnt when cutting up an old tanker that still had chemical residue.  The National Labor Committee (NLC)  has released a a ten minute video interview with the NLC Executive Director, Charles Kernaghan.

According to an 11 January 2010 NLC notice:

“Eight more workers in Bangladesh were burned to death on December 26, 2009, when the ship they were dismantling exploded.   The workers had been told that the gas tanks on the Agate oil tanker had been cleaned.   It was a lie.   Continue reading “Shipbreaking Explosion”