New Workers’ Memorial announced for Australia

In May 2011, the Australian Government announced the development of a National Worker’s Memorial.  The winning design, selected by an independent jury from a competitive pool of 26 entries, was announced in Canberra this evening.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten announced that Architects Johnson Pilton Walker have been awarded the task.  In a media statement Shorten said that

 “The memorial will honour and pay tribute to all working Australians who have died as a result of work-related accidents, incidents and disease… It will also provide an important focal point for the national commemoration of Workers’ Memorial Day, recognised internationally on 28 April each year.” Continue reading “New Workers’ Memorial announced for Australia”

Victorian WorkSafe Awards raise eyebrows and questions

Last week, WorkSafe Victoria held its 2011 Work Safe Awards night.  The host was Shane Jacobson, probably most well-known for his film Kenny.  SafetyAtWorkBlog has been informed that WorkSafe’s Executive Director, Ian Forsythe, was approached by an attendee on the evening complaining about the inappropriateness of some of Jacobson’s jokes and comments.

WorkSafe Victoria has been contacted for clarification of this complaint but as an attendee oneself, there were several times that laughter was subdued and eyebrows raised, particularly with one dubious homosexual reference and a joke about wives and guns.


A further, more general, concern was expressed to SafetyAtWorkBlog on the night about the awarding of one award to a person who is contracted by WorkSafe to promote OHS in rural areas.  The concern raises the issue again about the benefits of having a transparent judging criteria, or judging process, for safety awards. Continue reading “Victorian WorkSafe Awards raise eyebrows and questions”

Victoria risks $50 million over OHS reforms

A SafetyAtWorkBlog article from last week said that Victoria’s Work Safe Week started flat and that speakers at some events were unsure of the future of OHS laws due to Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips‘ unprecedented call to the Federal Government for a 12-month delay.

A spokesperson for the Federal Minister for Industrial Relations, Chris Evans, has told SafetyAtWorkBlog that Victoria is risking $A50 million of federal government funding if it does not implement OHS reforms:

“….the Victorian Government has already factored in around $50 million in reward payments for the 2011-12 budget forward estimates. These reward payments are dependent on Victoria implementing agreed reforms in accordance with key milestones. This includes OHS reform.”

This economic reality is perhaps behind Rich-Phillips’ continuing emphasis that the Victorian Government continues to support the “principle” of harmonisation.

At the 2011 Work Safe Awards on 19 October 2011, Minister  Rich-Phillips seemed to identify a strategy that is contrary to the application of that principle.   Continue reading “Victoria risks $50 million over OHS reforms”

Victoria is relinquishing its position of OHS leader in Australia

WorkSafe Victoria “launched” its Work Safe Week on 17 October 2011 with a lacklustre seminar about the future of OHS in Victoria but the quiet tone reflected the peculiar approach to OHS law reform taken by the government.  Disappointingly the Victorian Minister responsible for WorkSafe, Gordon Rich-Phillips, failed to use Work Safe Week as an opportunity to introduce himself to the State’s safety professionals.  His profile is almost non-existent other than his recent media release calling for a 12-month delay to OHS harmonisation, a decision that is likely to do more harm to OHS in Victoria than good.  Perhaps he is waiting to appear at the upcoming WorkSafe Awards dinner.

WorkSafe’s first speaker, Lisa Sturzenegger, provided the, now expected, summary of WorkSafe Victoria marketing statistics and stakeholder perception surveys that we became so familiar with from John Merritt’s tenure as Executive Director, but without the spark.  The message was that Victoria is leading the country in low workers’ compensation premiums and injury rates.  Sturzenegger did continue to tell us what WorkSafe intends to do for the next 12 months but without new legislation, the message was “business as usual”, and the other States will be applying a harmonised OHS enforcement policy, anyway. Continue reading “Victoria is relinquishing its position of OHS leader in Australia”

OHS awards can provide a market awareness

SafeWorkSA has announced that its OHS awards program for 2011 has received a record 80 nominations.  This is a useful counterpoint to the initiatives that WorkSafe Victoria has instigated to stem declining interests in its awards program.

SafeWorkSA has provided a breakdown of the award categories:

  • Best Workplace Health and Safety Management System – 16
  • Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue  – 37
  • Best Workplace Health and Safety Practice/s in a Small Business  – 7
  • Best Individual Contribution to Workplace Health and Safety  – 20

The most popular category relates to safety solutions which may indicate the persistence of the traditional engineering approach to occupational safety and health.  However it may also indicate a perception that achieving the position of finalist in a safety award conducted by a state OHS regulator infers some legitimacy on a product from which an effective marketing campaign can be constructed, a legitimacy that would be contested by the OHS regulators.

It is not insignificant that many inventions presented on the ABC  TV program The New Inventors are also associated with OHS awards around Australia.  This week’s program is almost typical with  two of the three inventions presented addressing OHS issues.  Marketing is a vital component of any commercially successful safety solution.

Kevin Jones

WorkSafe media director, Bernie Dean, talks about the new awards strategy

SafetyAtWorkBlog has been vocal on the need for Australia OHS awards to be reinvigorated, freshened up and re-booted.  WorkSafe Victoria launched a new interactive approach to its State awards several months ago with the intention of engaging the community and trying to maintain a momentum for the award process throughout the year.

In an exclusive interview in July 2011, WorkSafe Victoria’s Director of Communications, Bernie Dean, told SafetyAtWorkBlog that changes to the award process was essential because, amongst other reasons, there was a slow steady decline in the number of applications and a fall in the number of suitable applications.  He acknowledged that some of the extensions of application deadlines in previous years have been due to insufficient numbers of applications.  He also said that the assessment or judging process had become overly long and bureaucratic but having applications available throughout the year should help. Continue reading “WorkSafe media director, Bernie Dean, talks about the new awards strategy”

Australian safety awards are important but require rebooting

The 6th annual Safe Work Australia awards concluded a couple of hours ago.  The event was an opportunity to meet Australians prominent in the safety profession, celebrate innovation and to acknowledge individual efforts.  The winners’ achievements were largely significant but there are problems with the OHS award processes across Australia and the Safe Work Australia Awards reflected some of these.

The event, held at Parliament House, included a good collection of corporate, legal and  government decision-makers in the audience of 350 guests.  The Industrial Relations Minister, Chris Evans, delegated Senator Jacinta Collins (media statement available HERE) to attend the function and she expressed a rudimentary understanding of workplace health and safety.  She,  like many others, stated that “all workplace incidents are preventable”, a statement whose value is becoming dubious.  If safety professionals desire evidence-based decision making, someone needs to research the “preventable” statement as it risks creating unreasonable expectations of safety in the community, if it has not already.

Category 1: Best Workplace Health and Safety Management System

  1. Private Sector – Ballina Bypass Alliance
  2. Public Sector – Courts Administration Authority

Category 2: Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue – CSIRO Livestock Industries Continue reading “Australian safety awards are important but require rebooting”