The national safety regulator has shown it is at the behest of big business after downgrading safety regulations that had the potential to save lives and prevent injury at work.
Safe Work Australia is moving a number of Codes of Practice - including stevedoring and diving - to guidance material, meaning employers will be under less scrutiny and therefore less compelled to provide a safe working environment.
The news comes after SWA gave into the demands of multi-million dollar stevedoring and diving companies in a meeting with state regulators on Friday.
Maritime Union of Australia Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said the union opposes the move and is calling on the SWA to reverse its decision.
“The regulator, driven by the anti-worker Abbott Government’s agenda, does not operate best interests of the Australian community, instead it is operating to increase the bottom line of greedy stevedoring companies who would rather see people die than adopt safer working practices,” Smith said.
“If the draft code of practice had been adopted and adhered to at the Port of Melbourne Anthony Attard would not have been killed that bleak day in May.”
Anthony Attard was killed while loading a vessel at the port.
“In fact all of the wharfies over the last decade would have gone home to their families had the employers had have taken the Code of Practice on board,” Smith said.
“Wharfies remain 14 times more likely to die on-the-job than the average Australian worker. But apparently this statistic doesn’t bother the management of stevedoring companies; Toll, Patrick, Qube and DP World who have, one after another, lined up to put a knife into the Code.”
“We don’t think it’s an outrageous demand that people go home in one piece and we will not be taking this latest decision lightly.”
MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said it was unbelievable that the regulators would consider softer regulation in the diving industry in the wake of criminal charges being laid against Paspaley Pearling Company after Jarrod Hampton, 22, died on his second day at work two years ago.
“The current regulation doesn’t go far enough, even the Western Australia safety regulator identified this and now they’re doing a backflip because vested interest groups have told them they can’t afford to clean up their act.
“Well I say that’s not acceptable, if you can’t afford to make sure your workers go home, you don’t deserve to be in business.”