It is common for workers, particularly trade union members, to insist that workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace and work. Often this is said to be a Human Right. But does occupational health and safety (OHS) involve Human Rights or is the claim simply trade union hyperbole? Continue reading “Do workers have a human right to workplace health and safety?”
Tonight in Adelaide the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Catherine Branson QC, will be delivering the 2008 Don Dunstan Foundation Oration.
Ms Branson has said
“I want to live in a society where everyone can take advantage of his or her abilities and where everyone has a real say about the world they live in, be they an Indigenous person, a person of Muslim faith, a parent wanting leave from work to care for a child, or a person in a same-sex relationship.
“We all want a society where we can all feel safe and protected from violence and harassment no matter who we are or where our children can access appropriate educational opportunities no matter where they live.
“These are hardly controversial ideas.”
Indeed they are not. But in many of the past discussions on human rights, rights at work are missed, yet they are just as important. The omission may be because it seems there is a plethora of avenues of appeal in the workplace – discrimination, unfair dismissal, sexual harassment tribunals etc. Yet none of these focus on the prevention of harm in the way that legislative OHS obligations do.
Until the human rights advocates’ speeches become inclusive of workplace matters, there will be societal anchor dragging on progress of basic human rights.