«OHS Body of Knowledge Socio-Political Context: OHS Law and Regulation in Australia April, 2012 Copyright notice and licence terms First published in ...»
OHS Law and Regulation
OHS Body of Knowledge
Socio-Political Context: OHS Law and Regulation in Australia April, 2012
Copyright notice and licence terms
First published in 2012 by the Safety Institute of Australia Ltd, Tullamarine, Victoria, Australia.
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You are free to reproduce the material for reasonable personal, or in-house, non-commercial use for the purposes of workplace health and safety as long as you attribute the work using the citation guidelines below and do not charge fees directly or indirectly for use of the material. You must not change any part of the work or remove any part of this copyright notice, licence terms and disclaimer below.
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Citation of the whole Body of Knowledge should be as:
HaSPA (Health and Safety Professionals Alliance).(2012). The Core Body of Knowledge for Generalist OHS Professionals. Tullamarine, VIC. Safety Institute of Australia.
Citation of individual chapters should be as, for example:
Pryor, P., Capra, M. (2012). Foundation Science. In HaSPA (Health and Safety Professionals Alliance), The Core Body of Knowledge for Generalist OHS Professionals. Tullamarine, VIC. Safety Institute of Australia.
Disclaimer This material is supplied on the terms and understanding that HaSPA, the Safety Institute of Australia Ltd and their respective employees, officers and agents, the editor, or chapter authors and peer reviewers shall not be responsible or liable for any loss, damage, personal injury or death suffered by any person, howsoever caused and whether or not due to negligence, arising from the use of or reliance of any information, data or advice provided or referred to in this publication. Before relying on the material, users should carefully make their own assessment as to its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.
Background A defined body of knowledge is required as a basis for professional certification and for accreditation of education programs giving entry to a profession. The lack of such a body of knowledge for OHS professionals was identified in reviews of OHS legislation and OHS education in Australia. After a 2009 scoping study, WorkSafe Victoria provided funding to support a national project to develop and implement a core body of knowledge for generalist OHS professionals in Australia.
Development The process of developing and structuring the main content of this document was managed by a Technical Panel with representation from Victorian universities that teach OHS and from the Safety Institute of Australia, which is the main professional body for generalist OHS professionals in Australia. The Panel developed an initial conceptual framework which was then amended in accord with feedback received from OHS tertiary-level educators throughout Australia and the wider OHS profession. Specialist authors were invited to contribute chapters, which were then subjected to peer review and editing. It is anticipated that the resultant OHS Body of Knowledge will in future be regularly amended and updated as people use it and as the evidence base expands.
Conceptual structure The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a ‘conceptual’ approach. As concepts are abstract, the OHS professional needs to organise the concepts into a framework in order to solve a
problem. The overall framework used to structure the OHS Body of Knowledge is that:
Work impacts on the safety and health of humans who work in organisations. Organisations are influenced by the socio-political context. Organisations may be considered a system which may contain hazards which must be under control to minimise risk. This can be achieved by understanding models causation for safety and for health which will result in improvement in the safety and health of people at work. The OHS professional applies professional practice to influence the organisation to being about this improvement.
OHS Body of Knowledge Socio-Political Context: OHS Law and Regulation in Australia April, 2012
This can be represented as:
Audience The OHS Body of Knowledge provides a basis for accreditation of OHS professional education programs and certification of individual OHS professionals. It provides guidance for OHS educators in course development, and for OHS professionals and professional bodies in developing continuing professional development activities. Also, OHS regulators, employers and recruiters may find it useful for benchmarking OHS professional practice.
Application Importantly, the OHS Body of Knowledge is neither a textbook nor a curriculum; rather it describes the key concepts, core theories and related evidence that should be shared by Australian generalist OHS professionals. This knowledge will be gained through a combination of education and experience.
Accessing and using the OHS Body of Knowledge for generalist OHS professionals The OHS Body of Knowledge is published electronically. Each chapter can be downloaded separately. However users are advised to read the Introduction, which provides background to the information in individual chapters. They should also note the copyright requirements and the disclaimer before using or acting on the information.
Elizabeth has worked in the OHS field for 30 years in positions spanning OHS regulatory research, postgraduate OHS education, government OHS policy and legislation development, and OHS management. Initially a graduate in biological science, she subsequently completed a Masters in OHS and a PhD in OHS regulation. Her research interests are in OHS regulation, safe design, risk management and systematic OHS management.
This chapter focuses on the socio-political context of occupational health and safety (OHS). It is about the different legal and advisory instruments; state and non-state institutions or actors;
political, economic and social forces; technologies; and other factors that constitute the setting for OHS practice. Collectively, these socio-political-context elements frame, shape and regulate OHS practice. They impact on OHS risks and how they are dealt with in the workplace. The chapter begins by providing a broad overview of the socio-political context of OHS, and then examines some of its key elements in more detail. These elements are OHS regulation, industry associations and unions, Australian and international technical standards, other international instruments, and economic and social trends. The chapter concludes with an outline of the national model OHS legislation, a development in OHS regulation that is both central to and has links with many other elements of the socio-political context.
1. Overview of the socio-political context
2. OHS regulation in Australia
2.1 The federal system
2.2 History of Australian OHS legislation
2.3 Common themes in OHS regulation
3. Industry associations and unions
4. Australian and international technical standards
5. Other international instruments
6. Economic and social trends
Directions in OHS regulation – the model WHS Act
Key authors and thinkers
OHS Body of Knowledge Socio-Political Context: OHS Law and Regulation in Australia April, 2012 OHS Body of Knowledge Socio-Political Context: OHS Law and Regulation in Australia April, 2012
1. Overview of the socio-political context The legal, political, social, economic and technological context of occupational health and safety (the socio-political context) is dynamic, complex and diverse. This chapter examines this socio-political context with reference to a variety of state and non-state institutions and actors, legal and quasi-legal instruments, and other mechanisms of social control and influence. Collectively, these elements impact on OHS and the work of OHS professionals.
They variously frame, structure, monitor, interpret or enforce the ‘rules of the OHS game,’ and the decision-making and action of organisations and individuals at work. They may also contribute to OHS risks.
Central to the socio-political context is OHS regulation. The term ‘regulation’ is defined here in a ‘command and control’ sense as the promulgation of laws by government accompanied by mechanisms for inspecting and enforcing compliance with these laws (Baldwin & Cave, 1999; Black, 2001). The OHS regulators1 are principal actors in setting OHS standards – the OHS Acts, regulations and approved codes of practice. They are also involved in providing compliance support (awareness raising and guidance), and in inspecting and enforcing compliance. However, these activities are not confined to OHS regulators. Parliaments play a role in setting OHS standards, and the courts are involved in interpreting the law and determining non-compliance in legal proceedings. In addition, the activities of political parties, industry associations, unions, OHS professional associations and interest groups influence OHS policy, regulation and practice.
Casting the net more widely, other elements of the socio-political context of OHS are the laws that incorporate provisions relevant to specific types of work and risks, and the agencies that administer them. These include laws relating to road and rail transport, industrial chemical notification, building safety, petroleum extraction, ionising radiation, agricultural and veterinary chemicals, amusement equipment, electrical and gas safety (Johnstone, 2004a, pp. 85-86; Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010, p. 314). Also, there are laws and agencies dealing with workers’ compensation, industrial relations, human rights and equal opportunity, privacy and other matters that may impact on OHS practice (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010, p. 314). Scanning the socio-political horizon still further, there are Australian and international bodies that issue technical standards (for example, Australian or ISO standards), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) that prepare treaties, conventions and protocols, which countries that ratify them are expected to uphold (see, for example, Johnstone, 2004a, pp. 92-97).
1 As at March 2011, the principal OHS regulators are Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, the WorkCover Authority of New South Wales, SafeWork South Australia, Workplace Standards Tasmania, Comcare and the WorkSafe agencies in Victoria, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
OHS Body of Knowledge Page 1 of 18 Socio-Political Context: OHS Law and Regulation in Australia April, 2012 In addition to particular state and non-state institutions or actors, laws and other instruments operating in the socio-political context of OHS, there are economic and social trends impacting on OHS in Australian workplaces. These include changes in the labour market, work and organisational arrangements, as well as developments in technology and changes in workforce characteristics. These factors variously shape the organisational, physical and human environments at work. They contribute to OHS risks and impact on the capacity of OHS regulation to influence organisational and individual decision-making on OHS.
This brief overview introduces the complexity and diversity of the OHS socio-political context. Beyond the elements discussed, we could include the media (in all its forms), which contributes to shaping and framing public perceptions of OHS. While OHS regulation is the centrepiece of the OHS socio-political context, other institutions and actors, mechanisms and trends are part of the wider context. The OHS professional will encounter, and need to understand and deal with, all of these elements to the extent that they are relevant to his or her role in OHS. With regard to those elements that are not explicitly part of OHS regulation, a key challenge for the OHS professional will be to assess whether they support or are consistent with the goals of OHS regulation, or whether they are incompatible or undermine OHS regulatory goals.
This chapter examines some elements of the socio-political context of OHS in more detail.
These elements are OHS regulation, industry associations and unions, Australian and international technical standards, other international instruments, and economic and social trends.
2. OHS regulation in Australia