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).
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:
WorkSafe 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?”
Barry 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.
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?