From the silent voice of death come the soundest lessons in life

The legislation aimed at making sure employers maintain a safe workplace falls under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1986 - (referred to as the ACT).

In theory, this document should be familiar to every employer (and perhaps employee as well ) but we suspect very few every day people would find it an easy read.  Dare we say, even some lawyers struggle with some of the content -- so where does that leave the rest of us mere mortals?

Alas, legal minds have a very distinct way of expressing themselves and so we shall leave them to that and try to keep the VOID focus on the ACT as kind to the human mind as we possibly can and very much focused on what we believe requires addressing.

In a very tidy and uncomplicated nutshell, we can quite confidently tell you that no where in our vast library of law and rules that govern our society is the act of neglecting the safety and welfare of people quite as placated as it is in this piece of legislation.  

Why?  Well, because in this piece of legislation, business and industry are required to do things that apparently requires some gentle coaxing rather than the kind of requirements set aside for the average person in the face of legal obligation.

One fine example of this was the old AGGRAVATED OFFENCE (s59) as it was written prior to its amendment in January 2008.

The offence read almost word for word to that of a knowing intent to cold blooded murder - and yet carried only a maximum 5 year prison sentence. It’s element of ‘proof’ was worded in a way that made it impossible to charge unless the Crown happened to have a blatant and open admission of guilt.   In the acts history it was never tested.

Likewise, the monetary PENALTIES that were in effect prior to the amendments in 2008 were miserably inadequate to say the least.  VOID was at the forefront of lobbying for changes to both the penalties and the useless old S59.

After some years of parliamentary playing, the old S59 was indeed amended.  This is now called RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT ... Whether it sees the light of day, we’ll see.  All the laws in the world mean nothing if they sit unused in the legislation.

The business and industry lobby resisted and along the way and as a result the amendments were watered down somewhat - but what all of this outlines is that change can come even against powerful opposition.  

There are some archived pages to show how the process of reform in this legislation came about.  You will find this information on the page Our Lobby For Changes in this section.

Changes To the Laws That Govern Workplace Safety in South Australia