SIA receives $50K through Enforceable Undertaking

Enforceable Undertakings (EUs) are increasingly popping up in the prosecution lists of occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators.  A curious one appeared on WorkSafe Victoria’s website in January 2018.

Ardex Australia P/L was prosecuted for breaching OHS laws after a subcontractor was burnt:

“…when a dry powder mixing machine was operated whilst hot metal slag from welding activity was in the plant, causing an explosive dust-air mixture.”

But what is most curious is the EU’s inclusion of a $A50,000 donation to the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA).

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Is a new OHS consultative model required?

A crucial element in achieving the aims of the independent review into WorkSafe Victoria, as discussed in an earlier SafetyAtWorkBlog article, seems to be the operation of the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee (OHSAC).  It was difficult to obtain a list of the current members of OHSAC. Due to the appointments being considered “ministerial”, WorkSafe would not reveal memberships.

But it is worth considering whether this type of tripartite-dominated committee is the most suitable or effective way of consulting on occupational health and safety issues.  Can it represent the gig economy and new work arrangements?  Given the broadening of OHS into mental health and wellness, does the current membership still represent OHS? Where’s the Human Resources representative? Does OHSAC membership fit with the diversity we now expect from our company Boards? But, above all else, does the growth in social media make these often plodding, and sometimes secretive, processes ineffective or redundant?

A spokesperson for the Victorian Government has provided the following names of current OHSAC members as at December 2017.  SafetyAtWorkBlog has added titles and links to online member profiles:

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What better way to thank your Mum than by staying safe at work?

WorkSafeForMumWorkSafe Victoria has often been a leader in advertisements about occupational health and safety (OHS).  It has had mixed success since its Homecoming campaign, as it tries different strategies in the vital social media and internet communication world.

It’s latest campaign, Work Safe For Mum, has been running for around a week before Australia’s Mother’s Day on May 8, 2016.  It is one of those ads that doesn’t mention the product it is selling until the end.  The challenge with such ads is to inspire or guilt the viewer enough that they not only acknowledge the importance or relevance of the product but take the next act which, in this case, is to pledge to be safe at work. Continue reading “What better way to thank your Mum than by staying safe at work?”

New analysis of deaths at work

Cover of Deaths at Work 2014Barry Naismith has followed up his first report into WorkSafe with a second that analyses the workplace deaths in Victoria since 1985.

One of the attractions of Naismith’s analyses is that he considers the broader context to the data.  His first report looked at WorkSafe Victoria’s actions and policies in relation to the executive and board complexion.  In this report he looks at the frequency of deaths with WorkSafe campaigns and enforcement response.

The analysis may not have the authority of a fully-funded research program from an academic institution but the level of detail he has collected from official sources is impressive, and in the absence of any other analysis, Naismith’s work deserves serious attention.

Kevin Jones

WorkSafe Victoria’s Len Neist addresses safety profession breakfast

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), in its Australian partners and as a firm, has been prominent in occupational health and safety (OHS) matters, even though the organisation is “on the nose” with much of the trade union movement. This week HSF conducted a breakfast for the Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) in Melbourne, the first in a couple of years after an alleged falling out with the SIA.  The presentations did not sparkle as some have in previous years.

The most anticipated presentation was from Len Neist, an executive director of WorkSafe Victoria.  Neist outlined the aims of the organisation but much of this was familiar.  He reiterated the obligations on WorkSafe from the various legislation and pledged to focus on prevention.

Neist is not beyond executive jargon (“risk tolerability framework” ?) and stated one of his aims was to “incentivise compliance and improvement”.  One can argue that compliance should require no encouragement only enforcement.  Why provide incentives to businesses for what is their legislative and moral duty?

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Victoria’s WorkSafe to be reviewed

New Labor Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, has announced a review into the Victorian Workcover Authority (VWA) and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). No terms of reference for the inquiry are being released other than the brief mention in the media release of :

“…identify opportunities to optimise the effectiveness, efficiency and value of these organisations to the Victorian community.”

This inquiry has been mooted for some time but the lack of detail is curious, as could be the choice for the inquiry’s head.  There is no doubt that James MacKenzie has great knowledge about the workings of VWA and TAC as he was CEO of the TAC from 1994-97 and the Chairman of both TAC and WorkSafe Victoria from 2000-07.  Mackenzie was on the Board until around 2010 and was thanked profusely by VWA’s Elana Rubin in the 2011 Annual Report:

“On behalf of WorkSafe I would particularly like to acknowledge James MacKenzie’s work in the governance and management of personal injury schemes in Victoria. James served on the Board for over a decade, of which six years he was Chair.  During that time he led the transformation of WorkSafe.” (page 4)

Although MacKenzie seems to have had no direct role in the area for the last four years or so, his direct experience could also be considered an impediment, particularly if he “led the transformation of WorkSafe”. Continue reading “Victoria’s WorkSafe to be reviewed”

WorkSafe Victoria returns

VWA BrandJust over six months ago the (conservative) Victorian Government announced that it was dropping the WorkSafe brand (pictured right).  This made little sense at the time as the WorkSafe brand was so established that it became accepted shorthand for the OHS inspectorate. On 23 January 2015, less than two months after the election of a new (Labor) Victorian Government, the brand has been resurrected.  It seems that this indicates an ideological change.

The benefits of dropping the brand were stated on the Victorian Workcover Authority’s (VWA) website (pictured above) as better reflecting all areas of the VWA’s business but the decision was widely interpreted as a diminution of attention to harm and injury prevention.  Such a strategic shift echoed  the increased

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