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Employers & Managers: New Industrial Manslaughter Law In QLD

Employers & Managers: New Industrial Manslaughter Law In QLD

Negligent Employers & Senior Executives Can Be Charged With Industrial Manslaughter- New Queensland Laws

In a media statement from the Queensland government, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace announced new industrial manslaughter laws passed the parliament, leaving negligent employers culpable in workplace deaths with nowhere to hide.

In response to the tragic fatalities at Dreamworld and an Eagle Farm work site in 2016, the Queensland government undertook a Best Practice Review of Workplace Health and Safety in Queensland. The creation of the new offence of industrial manslaughter was one of 58 recommendations contained in the report.  Industrial manslaughter allows the criminal prosecution of owners and employers for workplace deaths.

“Negligent employers culpable in workplace fatalities in Queensland will face severe penalties for the new offence of industrial manslaughter,” said Minister Grace.

“Individuals guilty of industrial manslaughter will face 20 years imprisonment, with corporate offenders liable for fines of up to $10 million. These penalties send out a strong message to all employers that negligence causing death won’t be tolerated under any circumstances.

“Because of increasingly elaborate corporate structures, up until now, it’s been difficult to prosecute some employers for manslaughter.

“But these new laws will hold all employers – regardless of their size or structure – accountable for negligence contributing to a worker’s death.

According to the review, worker representatives and plaintiff lawyers favour the creation of an offence of gross negligence causing death, while industry groups and other legal professional groups favoured retaining the status quo.

To date, the only Australian jurisdiction which had a specific industrial manslaughter type offence was the Australian Capital Territory.

“The legislation passed today is all about ensuring all Queensland workers can return home safely to their loved ones after a day’s work.”

Sources:

Queensland Government Media Release:
http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/10/12/new-industrial-manslaughter-laws-to-protect-queenslanders-on-the-job

Best Practice Review Of Workplace Health and Safety:
https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/143521/best-practice-review-of-whsq-final-report.pdf

Safety Dimensions will update this page as more news comes to hand about what this means in practice for the QLD safety community.

When Enhancing Safety Culture Heats Up – Ducab Dubai

When Enhancing Safety Culture Heats Up – Ducab Dubai

By Dr Paul Johnston. Lead Consultant and Facilitator

Safety Dimensions recently had an opportunity to expand our relationship with Ducab [the Dubai Cable Company, a leading manufacturer of cabling], assisting them in enhancing their HSE culture via a Behavioural Based Safety [BBS] program. Already OHSAS18001 certified, Ducab’s intention is to exceed mere compliance with the required standards, and to achieve international “best practice”. Safety Dimensions is excited to be working with them on their health and safety journey.

Challenges

The challenges faced by Ducab are both physical and cultural in nature. Physically, the average temperature in summer of 40°C+, is compounded not only by levels of humidity in excess of 60%, but also by the presence of aluminium and copper furnaces on site. Culturally, the workforce is as diverse as the wider Dubai population, with most originating from highly hierarchical societies that are characterised by a significant “power distance” in relationships.

Power distance is a term that describes how people belonging to a specific cultural group view power relationships between people, including the degree to which people not in “power positions” perceive and/or accept that power is spread unequally.

Strengths

Although the cultural backgrounds of Ducab’s workforce do indeed constitute a challenge in establishing, implementing and maintaining an effective BBS program, the same also provide a solid foundation on which to build. Whilst this may seem somewhat paradoxical, although the sense of power distance is significant, so is the importance of “team” and “community” to the workforce – this is the strength that has already contributed to Ducab’s success, and this is the strength on which the roll-out of the BBS program is being based. Indeed the Australian mindset of “looking after your mates” is a reasonable comparison. The main difference, however, is the perceptions associated with hierarchical relationships, and the manner of communication that is associated with it. (Continued below)

The way forward

In moving forward with Ducab, the intention is to build on their success and cultural strengths, extending their sense of “team” to create a greater sense of “permission” to have safety conversations with others, regardless of rank and title.

Will this be easy?….No.

Is it achievable?….Yes.

One of the key reasons for these answers is what we saw during our 3 weeks with Ducab. During this time, site visits and interviews were conducted, and 3 two day Safety Leadership workshops were facilitated, as was a one day Executive Masterclass. Throughout these activities, two themes remained  constant – the intent to work diligently for the good of the company, and the willingness to have open discussions in what were considered to be appropriate settings. The goal is to extend this so that all of Ducab is seen as an appropriate setting for such interaction. This goal, although challenging, is one that I believe Ducab can achieve – with this being based on the level of commitment and willingness to learn that was witnessed of both management and front-line operators alike during our time there.

Indeed, the current pace of development in Dubai, both in terms of commercial operations and infrastructure development, is remarkable – with this being reflected in the collective willingness to establish long term partnerships and to strive for international best practice.

With this in mind, we are looking forward to our next trip to Dubai, scheduled for early next year, and to see what the future in the region brings.

What did we learn ?

From our initial site visits, interviews, the subsequent Masterclass, through collaboration we all learned more about Ducab, the challenges they face and how we can move Safety forward in a tangible way.   The experience can best be summarised in the statement “Limitations are what we put in the way, not what are actually there”.  Ducab’s willingness to understand, challenge themselves and to apply a different approach to safety was quite evident, and it something that companies both internationally and locally could learn a lot from.

Our International Advantage

Safety Dimensions has instructionally designed and/or delivered behavioural safety leadership and similar programs in 20 countries.

Read more about our international advantage here : http://www.safetydimensions.com.au/international

To find out how Safety Dimensions can help your organisation transform Safety Culture, no matter where in the world you are, call us on 1300 453 555 in Australia or internationally on +613 9510 0477.

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The Safety Journey With Costa Group

The Safety Journey With Costa Group

Costa Group is Australia’s largest horticultural company and a major supplier of produce to food retailers. With over 3,500 hectares of farmed land across Australia and more than 6,000 employees during peak seasonal periods, Costa values their employees and prioritises their safety.

Safety Dimensions has been partnering with Costa Group since 2015 to continue building a strong safety culture, working on building skills and knowledge in the area of safety, for Senior Executives and Frontline Leaders.

Approaches taken included designing and developing a Costa specific Masterclass for Senior Executives, and choosing a two-day Safety Leadership program, refined through a piloting process with key stakeholders and their front-line leaders.

Post pilot, this program was rolled-out nationally to all Leaders and Managers of the business.

The program included Keepad, a surveying technology enabling participants to respond anonymously to a series of safety culture and leadership questions through the use of a handheld device. Questions were specifically developed to enable Costa to collect real-time data about behaviours and perceptions from their workforce. This data was utilised by Costa and Safety Dimensions to analyse and prioritise next steps in the journey.

Drawing together the real-time Keepad data, the positive feedback from the learners, and the improvement in Costa’s safety figures (post the Safety Leadership program) in partnership with Safety Dimensions next steps were implemented to consolidate and continue the safety journey for Costa employees.

Costa and Safety Dimensions has partnered with Costa to launch an online portal to enabling their staff (who have already undertaken the initial programs) to refresh and embed the learning from the 2-day Safety Leadership program. Safety Dimensions has built customised online portals to enable learners to do pre-work or surveys before program, or as a tool to embed the learning after programs have completed.

Within the online portal, the initial Keepad questions have been included, and this will enable Costa and Safety Dimensions to analyse shift from their earlier data in safety behaviours and perceptions over time and gain further actionable insights.

Safety Dimensions spoke to Lou Torcaso, WHS and Workers Compensation Manager at Costa about their safety journey.

Prior to this safety journey what where some of the challenges Costa experienced that you think are common to others in industry?

A challenge prior to our safety journey was providing leadership to employees on how we think about safety. There was inconsistency in a standard message across all Costa Group (business is made up of 5 different units). Some sites were more advanced than others and the challenge was to create a level playing ground across all Costa sites.

Pre this safety journey another challenge was getting the buy-in from key stakeholders about what our safety culture would look like if we implemented a program for change. We needed to ensure that this program wasn’t “just another training course” and instead a program that would help our leaders to use tools to improve how they manage their people and that they’d see the benefits in using these tools.

What were the key outcomes you were looking for when you began this partnership?

To provide the same safety message across all Costa Group sites and ensure the consistency of the training to all employees. The challenge was to be able to do this over 40 sites nationally (with some sites located in regional/remote areas).

We were looking to improve the safety culture of our Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders to enhance their behaviour and mindset which we hoped in effect would cascade into improvement of our safety performance through proactive control.

The key outcome for all of this was to also ensure this was sustained and not forgotten about in 6 months or that “old habits” returned. We felt we needed strong Facilitators/Trainers to provide the consistent safety message across all sites. These Facilitators/Trainers need to be engaging and influential in communicating the program.

What did you think the biggest obstacles were going to be to the success of this project?

The biggest obstacle for the success of this project was managing the logistics in getting over 600 people nationally (including those in regional areas) trained over a period of time and to manage this from a central point with venues in a number of places across the country. This created another obstacle with travel costs, accommodation etc. The other obstacle was getting support by all business units (WHS Managers) as well as the Executive team.

Another obstacle was time. Trying to not only coordinate people to get to the training, but also provide a program that wasn’t too long and wasn’t too short to be effective. This program required people to take time out of their normal duties so the challenge was to provide a program to cater for the site’s needs. For example some sites participated in two consecutive days of training, whilst others had 1 day training and then their second day was 3 weeks later. Flexibility was important for the success of this project.

Safety can be viewed as time consuming and costly, how within the partnership did you to stay within your time-frames and budgets?

Prior to approval we conducted a “snapshot” 5 hour version of the 2 day program for the Executive team (Masterclass program) as well as a “pilot program” for key stakeholders (WHS Managers). This provided the team the “buy-in” to the program so that they understood what we needed to achieve. This also provided us financial support to roll this out to the broader group.

We worked with Safety Dimensions to create a schedule for the year and mapped out what the costs would be, based on training program, Facilitators/Trainers availability, venues, travel, accommodation etc. Once finalised, this was locked in and people were able to book participants into the program according to the dates that worked with them (via an online booking system developed by Safety Dimensions).

Centralising venues across each state allowed for efficiency and reduced costs to get employees to the program. With support from our company sponsor (Chief Operating Officer) funds were approved and signoff to be included in the budget. This was then tracked regularly by me to ensure that we stayed within budget. The key to this success was to provide key stakeholders reasons as to why this wasn’t a time consuming and costly exercise and we did this by providing them information and involving them with the process.

Often when employees are directed to undertake a program this can be met with mixed reactions. Did employees shift their views during this journey?

From the day our first program commenced employees reactions were very positive overall. Whilst there were a small percentage of negative reactions, we felt that overall the mindset had shifted and this had reflected in significant improvements to our safety performance.

There is supporting evidence that would suggest that the significant increase in Near Miss reporting correlates to when the program had commenced. Feedback from some sites showed significant increase in reporting. In theory reporting near misses effectively reduces LTI’s, MTI’s and FTI’s. This theory is further supported with the Total Recordable Frequency Rate (TRFIR) trending downwards since the roll out of this program.

This in effect clearly showed our senior management the benefits of this program.

Do you have any positive stories or anecdotes about how this training impacted a particular worker or business unit’s way of operating or thinking when it comes to safety or leadership?

Keepad survey data indicated that we are moving in the right direction and that we are not that far away in where we need to be. Whilst there are some sites better than others in implementing proactive safety, there was a general consensus that people are not afraid to speak to their managers around safety and that employees were confident that there was a commitment from senior management.

One positive that comes to mind was a particular Manager at one site had called me the very next day after he had completed his training to tell me that he had “seen the light” and that it made sense to him now in what he needs to do to change the mindset of his team. Within that week that particular site had implemented a number of improvements in both process and procedures. This was further reflected on a number of initiatives implemented that eventually gave this site an internal award (Chairman’s Award) for “Workplace Health and Safety” for demonstrating improvement.

How important is it to partner with the right training provider?

An excellent relationship is really critical to partnering with the right training provider. We had carefully selected a training provider who needed to be consistent, and most importantly be flexible with our needs.

It was important that we were able to select Facilitators/Trainers who we felt comfortable with (pre-selection of trainers prior to the commencement of program) and to be able to communicate with our provider around better ways to coordinate the training to suit our needs.



Thanks to Lou Torcaso for speaking with us. Find out more about the Costa Group here.


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Contact us now on 1300 453 555 or use our contact form here.

Victoria’s New OHS Regulations 2017

Victoria’s New OHS Regulations 2017

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) and Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations 2017 (EPS Regulations) commenced in Victoria on 18 June 2017.

You can access them here :

OHS Regulations 2017 [PDF, 2.20MB]

EPS Regulations 2017 [PDF, 276kB]

With the new OHS Regulations 2017 already in force, the compliance codes that align with the regulations are now under review. In consultation with stakeholders, WorkSafe has updated the codes, and eight proposed codes are available for public comment from Monday 1 May to Friday 9 June. Find out more about public comment on the compliance codes.

Find out more about OHS Regulations reform.

OHS Regulations changes

The new OHS Regulations 2017 are mainly the same. However, if you are in a workplace where asbestos is present; are a manufacturer or an importing supplier of hazardous substances or agricultural and veterinary chemicals; work in construction; or operate a mine or major hazard facility, you need to become aware of the changes. In most cases, compliance is required by 18 June 2017.

Most importantly, the new OHS Regulations 2017 maintain Victoria’s already high safety standards. In some high risk areas, like asbestos removal work, they improve standards. The changes also deliver significant savings to Victorian businesses in the areas of high risk work licensing and record keeping for designers and manufacturers of plant.

For some changes, transitional arrangements apply to allow duty and licence holders time to become compliant with the updated regulatory requirements.

If you are affected by the changes, WorkSafe Victoria has prepared a range of information and support resources to help you identify what to do to stay compliant when the changes take effect on 18 June 2017,  contact the email address below.

The Regulations have been renumbered with consecutive numbers, in line with the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel’s guidance on the preparation of statutory rules. Reconciliation tables are available through the links below to help you quickly compare the numbering between the 2007 Regulations and the 2017 Regulations.

Support information

For further information contact the WorkSafe Victoria Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 or at ohsregsreform@worksafe.vic.gov.au.

Submissions and feedback

Feedback and engagement from our stakeholders has played a vital part in making sure the OHS Regulations 2017 and EPS Regulations 2017 are streamlined and modernised to better reflect current Victorian work practices.

In 2016 the proposed new OHS and EPS Regulations 2017 were made available for public comment and 61 submissions were received. WorkSafe considered and responded to all submissions before finalising the Regulations.

All of the submissions, including WorkSafe’s response, are available in the ‘Proposed Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 and Equipment (Public Safety) Regulations 2017 – Response to public comment’ through the link below.

Resources

Websites


SOURCE:
Worksafe Victoria https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/news/notices/ohs-regulations-reform-2017

Corporate Manslaughter: what is it and could it bring justice for Grenfell Tower victims?

Related posts: Queensland Industrial Manslaughter: New Laws


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Ioannis Glinavos, University of Westminster.

The disaster at Grenfell Tower has been described by David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, as a case of “corporate manslaughter”. According to English law, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures, resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Amid calls for arrests, it’s time to consider whether the failings that led to the Grenfell disaster could possibly justify the use of the label “corporate manslaughter” – and what this would mean for victims who seek justice.

Prosecutions for this offence are of a corporate body (defined broadly enough to include public authorities) and not individuals – so we probably won’t see any pictures of executives being led away in handcuffs. That said, directors, board members and others may still be liable to prosecution under health and safety law or general criminal law. The offence also covers contractors and sub-contractors, so long as they owe a duty of care to the victims.

A duty of care is an obligation, whereby an organisation must take reasonable steps to protect a person’s safety. Legally, it is broadly understood as avoiding negligence by not placing people in danger. These duties also exist in relation to workplaces and equipment, as well as to products or services supplied to customers. This suggests that when an entity exercises control over people and spaces it has a responsibility to protect them.

The corporate manslaughter offence uses the same definitions of duty of care as the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter. This means that the threshold for the offence is high – the way that activities were managed or organised must have fallen seriously far below reasonable standards.

The consequences

Any organisation convicted of this offence would face a fine of anywhere between £180,000 and £20m (though there is no hard maximum limit). They would also be handed a publicity order, which requires them to publicise the conviction, along with certain details of the offence, as specified by the court. The court can also set a remedial order, requiring the organisation to address the cause of the fatal injury, which in this case could have consequences for similar tower blocks.

While there is no direct precedent for this kind of tragedy – involving massive loss of life for non-workers – to help us estimate penalties, some indications can be gleaned from the fines imposed on rail operators for train accidents. In 2003, Thames Trains and Network Rail were fined over £2m and £4m respectively, in relation to the health and safety breaches that led to the 1999 Ladbroke Grove train crash, which killed 31 people. And in 2006, Network Rail was fined £3.5m and Balfour Beatty an eventual £7.5m (following an appeal) for faults leading to the fatal derailment of a train near Hatfield in 2000.

It’s also possible for an organisation to be charged with both corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences in the same proceedings. In these circumstances, if an organisation is convicted of corporate manslaughter the jury may still be asked to return a verdict on the health and safety charges if the interests of justice so require, which can have further consequences for individuals.

Potential defendants

Corporate manslaughter is an extremely serious offence, reserved for the very worst cases of corporate mismanagement leading to death. Even before knowing the full extent of the Grenfell disaster, it’s safe to say that it is likely to fall in this category.

Potential defendants in this case – should one eventually be brought – would probably include the building’s management company, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), and possibly also contractors involved in the tower’s recent renovation.

But advocates for the victims are likely to be looking further than that, seeking to challenge the behaviour of public authorities and political decisions about spending on improvements to social housing in London. Prosecutions of public authorities would have far-reaching political consequences.

If the defendant is a public authority, exemptions may apply to decisions about public policy. For example, strategic funding decisions and other matters involving competing public interests, cannot be challenged in criminal proceedings. But decisions about how resources were managed are not exempt, which means that deliberate under-investment in maintaining safety could lead to prosecutions.

According to the law, the offence is concerned with how an organisation’s activities were managed or organised. So, courts will look at management systems and practices across the organisation in question, and investigate whether an adequate standard of care was applied. A substantial part of the failing must have occurred at a senior management level for a conviction to be successful.

Juries would be required to consider the extent to which an organisation was in breach of health and safety requirements, and assess how serious those failings were. They would also consider wider cultural issues within the organisation, such as attitudes or practices that tolerated health and safety breaches. What’s more, it would not be necessary for the management failure to have been the sole cause of death, so a tenant’s actions in starting this fire would not exonerate those responsible for inadequate safety measures.

The ConversationFor now, London is in mourning. But when the immediate phase has passed, the law will turn its attention to those who may be responsible, and see that justice is carried out.

Ioannis Glinavos, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Westminster

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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