DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER

Categories: Hot Off The Press
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Comments: 4 Comments
Published on: September 22, 2011

A recent comment on the News Desk made remarks that suggested it was socially irresponsible to put photographs of examples of unsafe work up on the VOID website. It was said that these instances should be reported to the regulator and not sent to VOID for publication.

It’s important to clarify a few things here.

Now I have to say, it’s possible that recent changes have taken place at SafeWork SA. Maybe there have been some profound improvements made in the response speed when safety concerns are reported. That would be a good thing. We do know from previous experience that the process was notoriously tedious and slow. These concerns have been raised and echoed countless times by individuals who have contacted VOID.

A couple of weeks ago we published some photographs exposing the questionable use of ladders and timber trestles in place of scaffolding on a building site in Adelaide’s Port side.

There was contact made with VOID by SafeWork SA in relation to those photographs. We assume the department sent an inspector to the work site after information was provided and we noticed the ladders and trestles were removed. We were hopeful for a little feedback in relation to all of that but it’s early days yet. At any rate, we will continue to advise SafeWork SA of any evidence we receive that denotes an immediate risk and a clear absence of safety consultation.

We’ve been publishing unsafe work images for a little while now. Mostly the images are received well after the ‘act’ is committed. The point of putting these images out there is to reveal the dangerous flaws of ‘self-regulation’ – hence the title of the pages. The point is really about exposing what is normally well hidden and perhaps more often in the smaller business sector – although not always.

Sadly we know that safety is not a ‘given’ even when the regulator has notification. Have we forgotten the tragic death of Brett Fritsch and all the safety issues raised at the Desalination Plant prior to July 2010? God I hope we never forget the fact that there were HSR’s and Unions delegates all around that plant. I hope we burn into our brains just how, even after SafeWork SA attended the plant and there was a safety audit, a man died.

On a beautiful day in Adelaide was not circulated for exposing safety breaches. The story had another message. It was pretty clear the author had sound knowledge in safety management and was at that time, in consultation. What was also painfully evident was the defiance and the hostility!

Clearly there is confusion as to what is required and who is responsible for implementing best safety practise. We can go on about the legislation but the truth is that laws were not written for ordinary people to be able to understand. Confusion leads to frustration and frustration leads to antagonism and that is a massive impediment to safety.

Yeah, right now I’m thinking – don’t shoot the messenger!

4 Comments
  1. Karen Hudson says:

    OH BOY! I didn’t know whether to laugh, or cry at Worksafe (SA) comment. Had Worksafe (Tasmania) acted as quickly as Worksafe (SA) to complain about the photos published on the “Void site” my son Matthew may still be alive.
    Worksafe Tasmania never acted on a call to their “Hotline” 6 weeks before Matty was even on that site, that there were unlicensed drivers at Blue Ribbon, because the call was anonymous (which later was revealed in a document that the call was not anonymous) and not in writing.
    You keep publishing these photos Andrea! as many as you can. In my opinion you are doing more on the VOID site for Safety in the workplace than any highly paid desk sitter of Worksafe in any state!
    Reality is a must, people wont understand the reality of Industrial Deaths with glossed over photo’s and shiny posters added to a wall or a Worksafe commercial that has nothing to do with the reality of death in the workplace.
    You know what is needed Andrea! you have first hand experience :0( you are not some book reader that has a certificate to say you are experienced to know these things.
    You are the real deal :0) keep up the amazing work you do….

    • Admin:AM says:

      Not 100% sure Dan is a SafeWork SA inspector – the only thing I am sure of is that his comment was published from the South Australian Government server. 😉

      Karen, it does my head in thinking about Matty and the complaints that had been made about the company where he died to your safety regulator in Tasmania. There is just no excuse … no justification – and yet I’m certain there was plenty when it was all too late.

      The truth is that when one actually takes the time to get out of their comfy office chair and into a car, and goes for a drive – wow, this stuff is going on all around.

      • Karen Hudson says:

        I try so hard not to think about any part of Matty’s case Andrea, if I leave comments on other sites and need to recall information I often guesstimate.

        If I pull his documents for correct information at anytime, it immediately sends me spiraling back to that time and those events. Not a place to ever be.

        I think I spent half the day yesterday thinking of the comment SOCIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE it makes my blood boil!
        Where can I get a crystal ball from? I need to see the world this man lives in. What ever happened to MORALLY RESPONSIBLE?

        I sure would like to debate SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY verses MORAL RESPONSIBILITY with this person. Of course I am guessing this person has first hand experience at losing his child to an INDUSTRIAL DEATH and therefore has the real qualifications to comment on such matters.

        I am guessing with SELF REGULATION there will be less of a need for those people that hide under the heading “Safety Inspectors”.

        Once when chatting with the head of Worplace Standards Tasmania, he told us that their capacity was limited under the Law. Today I have to wonder why such an office exists if they don’t have the power and strength to “fight and speak out” for the needed changes to industry to keep our workers safe.

        I know, I am only a mother who lost her 16 year old son to a work death, but I can’t help to look at all the evidence and documentation – to look at all that has not been done since Matty’s death to implement changes – and I have to wonder why that office actually exist?

        In my experience they only act after the horse has bolted. They are not much more than a MOP UP TEAM.

        And someone has the gall to comment on Social Responsibility …. as she shakes her head in DISGUST!

  2. Admin:AM says:

    Interesting analogy Karen – the MOP UP TEAM.

    I wish I had thought of that. 🙂

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