|Issue No 49||07 April 2000|
Shaw Sets Safety Guidelines
NSW Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Jeff Shaw, QC has introduced a sentencing guidelines bill for breaches of workplace safety.
The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Sentencing Guidelines) Bill 2000 will enable the Attorney General to apply to the Full Bench of the Industrial Relations Commission in court session at any time to ask for a guideline judgement.
Shaw says the sentencing guidelines help ensure consistency in sentencing decisions.
"It is important to recognise that the guidelines are indicative only and are not intended to be applied in every case and they are not rules binding on judges," Shaw says.
"The Attorney General will have the power to request that the Industrial Relations consider a sentencing guideline, he or she will not have the power to order the Commission. The distinction is crucial to ensuring that the fundamental principle of the separation of powers is retained.
"Workplace safety is an issue which is increasingly concerning the community. Offenders are being prosecuted vigorously and are paying with heavy penalties.
The guidelines are in line with the recommendations of a number of occupational health and safety inquiries, the most recent being the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Safety.
Builders fined $125 000 Over M2 Death
Meanwhile, Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd has been fined $125 000 after a workplace accident which led to the death of one of the construction company's employees.
Abigroup pleaded guilty to the offences which occurred on 4 November, 1996 at the construction site of the M2 Motorway at North Ryde. Employees of the defendant were altering the width of a concrete paving machine when it collapsed, killing an employee.
A foreman had told his supervisor in May,1994 and his maintenance manager in June 1996 about the lack of adequate instructions for using the machine.
The Court heard that Abigroup had not conducted a risk analysis before the accident or documented the necessary guidelines for altering the machine. Stands had not been installed prior to the machine being adjusted.
Justice Wright said Abigroup had a noteworthy safety record but the case highlighted the need for large operators in the construction industry to ensure their operations were conducted with the greatest regard to safety. The defendant's submission that there was a safe system of work in place which was not followed for reasons unexplained could not be accepted, he said.
Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005