The issues paper of National Review into Model OHS Laws is a peculiar beast for several reasons. Firstly, it is a review of legislation and restricts itself to the OHS Act. However it wants submissions on other safety legislation that has“interdependence” such as road safety, rail safety and others. That is a very big ask…
Further to my post on public service workloads, the Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, author of the 2003 book on work/life balance, has stated on television (if you get through the fuel price discussion) that
“There’s always going to be some disgruntled people in a large organisation,” he said. “Whether there’s truth in what they say, who knows. You just don’t know. But I believe that things will settle down to a degree. We’ve got a big agenda, we expect a lot of ourselves, we expect a lot of people working with us but it’s for the betterment of the nation, it’s for getting better outcomes for Australia.”
The challenge facing the government at the moment is that it is confusing productivity with hours of work. And I don’t accept that there is a difference between those who work in the civil service and those in private companies in terms of the health and safety risks associated with hours of work.
In today’s The Australian newspaper, John McDonnell, a public policy consultant, mentions the inconsistency in the government’s approach in passing. He says
“leaving aside the inconsistency between the Government’s view of work-life balance for the public service as opposed to that for the rest of the community…”
Lindsay Tanner has written about work-life balance yet is not prepared to apply his knowledge to the industry he works in. His comments above, and similar ones from his colleagues, are the first time that I have heard patriotism used in relation to workload. I wonder when the public service workers compensation claims begin to appear for stress-related disorders and depression, whether they will be rejected on the basis of “working for the betterment of the nation”.
The first issues paper on OHS law reform on a national basis in Australia is now available on line at http://www.nationalohsreview.gov.au/ohs/PublicSubmissions/
Analysis and comment will be provided over the next few weeks. Please feel free to establish discussions on any elements of the review by commenting at SafetyAtWorkBlog.
At the moment in Australia there are political statements and arguments about the substantially increased workload that the newly-appointed Labor Government is placing on public servants. There are accusations that leaks have occurred from the public service as a protest to the long working hours that the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, expects. Working hours that, it should be said,…
Workplace safety usually gets little attention from mainstream press. Until recently, with the growth of online specialist content, trade publications covered OHS events, but the lead time made the news events of historical interest more than something that generated enthusiasm or outrage.
Last weekend the Australian Labor Party in Victoria held its annual conference in Melbourne. The Premier, John Brumby, stated that workplace safety was of continuing high concern to his government. This comment was reported nowhere other than the Sunday night (25 May 2008 ) news bulletin of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The ABC news website has mentioned other comments that the Premier made at the conference:
“It’s vital for workers and for occupational health and safety representatives that they can raise safety issues without suffering recrimination or discrimination,” he said. “Because if people can’t speak up, then people’s lives can be put at risk.”
The comment is very welcome but why make such a statement now? Has an OHS whistleblowing incident happened recently? No. Has the issue been a sore political point? No.
Given that neither the ALP or the Premier’s office has released the Premier’s speech almost a week after the event, it can only be assumed that the comments were intended for the union audience at the conference and were said, mainly, to have something to say.
His comments are a reiteration of party policy and any support for OHS is welcome but if anyone makes a positive comment on workplace safety, let them be loud and proud about it. The OHS profession and worker safety needs the profile.