The Maritime Union of Australia has welcomed an announcement from the Federal Government that they are initiating a review of the Seacare scheme of occupational health and safety workers’ compensation in the Australian shipping industry.
The union particularly welcomes Minister Shorten's announcement that the Government is committed to ensure that the Seacare Scheme represent best practice, and that it will have the best features of comparable other Australian work health and safety and workers’ compensation schemes.
“With the Government’s introduction of the national work health and safety laws, it is important to ensure Seacare continues to provide an effective framework for rehabilitation and compensation support to injured seafarers, and provides practical, clear and consistent OHS guidance to maritime operators,” Mr. Shorten said.
Minister Shorten also said that it is the Government’s intention that the review will not consider any reduction in existing benefits afforded to workers covered by the Seacare scheme.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said that Secare review would benefit injured workers and as a result reduce labour costs to employers:
“The review will provide an opportunity to ensure workers’ compensation performance is improved through development of better return to work practices and other reforms that will benefit workers who are injured at work and to ensure that the scheme operators efficiently, thereby reducing labour costs to employers,” Crumlin said.
“As it currently stands the Seacare scheme has not been harmonised with the model OHS laws, and as a result does not have the benefits of best practice OHS, yet, OHS performance in the shipping industry remains behind national standards,”
“Injury, fatalities and suicide in the Australian maritime industry remain unacceptably high,” Crumlin added.
“We anticipate the review will be one way to focus on reforms that will ensure the regulatory framework provides for all interests,
“Employers, workers and contractors can reduce the levels of incidents and to make working in the Australian shipping industry a safer place.”
The review will report to the Australian Government by 22 February 2013.