Harmonisation of Australia’s safety legislation

This was the first many articles by legendary late Safety Guru, George Robotham

Harmonisation of Australia’s safety legislation

Quotable Quote "A health & safety problem can be described by statistics but cannot be understood by statistics. It can only be understood by knowing and feeling the pain, anguish, and depression and shattered hopes of the victim and of wives, husbands, parents, children, grandparents and friends, and the hope, struggle and triumph of recovery and rehabilitation in a world often unsympathetic, ignorant, unfriendly and unsupportive, only those with close experience of life altering personal damage have this understanding"

Well it is 100 days or so until the harmonised safety legislation kicks in in Australia. I note the Act, Regulations, and Codes of Practice are in varying stages of preparation.

The harmonisation discussion forum on Linkedin seems to be keeping us up to date in a good manner. In Qld. the state government is holding a series of information sessions on the changes in October. Varying jurisdictions are at various stages of implementing the changes. There appears to be a full head of steam happening and some business organisations are quoting significant, expected savings. Some companies are employing extra safety staff to cope with the changes. Discussion on the Canadian Centre for OHS discussion forum came to the conclusion that you would be lucky to prevent 20% of your accidents if all you did was comply with safety legislation. Bearing this in mind one has to wonder how effective the harmonised safety legislation will be. Greatest thing since sliced bread or yet another act of public masturbation from the tripartite partners?

Time will tell!

1. Damage to people at work has a number of adverse outcomes:-

  • Financial loss to employer, worker and community
  • Pain and suffering
  • Dislocation of lives
  • Permanence of death

2. Damage to people from work falls naturally into one of three Classes.

Class I damage permanently alters the person’s life and subdivides into – fatal – non fatal

Class II damage temporarily alters the person’s life

Class III damage temporarily inconveniences the person’s life (Geoff McDonald & Associates)

It is difficult for me to see that the harmonised legislation has addressed the essential factors in the Class 1 personal damage phenomenon. Certainly there has been a major mistake made because a National Class 1 data base has not been introduced.