Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1601 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
safe environments. So I believe there is a fairly positive attitude from a good range of management.
However, we found that in ACT enterprises there are confusions about what those standards should be and whether the OH&S systems in place are being properly implemented. So there is a role and a need for government agencies to be continually quality assurance checking and providing advice to agencies to ensure that they have best practices in place.
I move to Ms Gallagher's point about industrial manslaughter. This is a very interesting concept we would like to look at. There may be some sense in this concept. We would like to see the detail of what that concept means. We would be keen to review it as well. But if we are going to enact industrial manslaughter as a weapon to bring people to book for crimes they may have committed, we will also have an obligation to ensure that we provide the best practices, we provide the best advice to all businesses and that we ensure that they have in place the systems against which we might then prosecute a crime. It cuts both ways. We will have a look at that.
Management takes this particularly seriously. You cannot rule out risk. Risk will happen. Many emergency personnel in the ACT put themselves in the line of death risk. It is pleasing to say that most of our emergency organisations have very good emergency management and safety management practices in place. I have a question, though, about the compensation that ACT policemen, firemen and ambulancemen-
Mr Corbell: And women.
MR PRATT: Men and women, yes. Thank you very much Mr Corbell. Compensation for the deaths of these men/women in the line of duty is a question which still hangs in the air, as far as I am concerned.
We await detail of the industrial manslaughter concept. We will have a look at that. We would also like to review what OH&S and emergency management procedures ACT government agencies have in place. The two elements must run side by side. To that end, we are happy to support the thrust of this motion.
MS DUNDAS (10.56): I welcome debate on occupational health and safety issues. Although we have come a long way in making workplaces safer, Australians are still dying due to injuries caused at work. Improvements in workplace safety have come about through joint recognition by employers and employees and their unions that everyone in the workplace is responsible for creating and maintaining a safe environment and safe systems of work.
Although most employers do take their occupational health and safety responsibilities quite seriously, there are a few who see OH&S laws as more of a nuisance than a necessity. Some irresponsible employers knowingly create or oversee systems of work that place employees at risk of death, but we do not know whether the best way of bringing these rogue employers into line is by increasing penalties, increasing random workplace inspections, improving employer education or some other measure. It is very important that we have this debate to flesh out these issues.