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Regulating for safe work in a digital age: building on the adaptive power of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws in Australia

Journal Article


Abstract


  • The current health pandemic brought about by COVID-19 has spurred the growth of

    alternative, digitised forms of contract work in the growing gig economy. This

    growth has been particularly acute in low-paid contingent work such as ride-hailing

    and food delivery services (18). Due to the nature of their work, these workers are

    especially vulnerable to health risks and lack adequate access to employment

    entitlements such as sick leave. Consequently, COVID-19 has created a sense of

    urgency and opportunity for governments and policy makers to re-evaluate

    Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws to ensure that all workers, regardless of

    their legal classification, are able to carry out work safely.

    This brief explores whether the current hybrid form of WHS regulation in Australia is

    well equipped to address these challenges. It builds on current literature that

    considers the challenges in managing WHS matters in this new era of digital work by

    examining the impact of ‘‘command and control’’ and ‘‘light touch’’ forms of

    regulation (14). We propose that workers in modern economies can be afforded WHS

    protections despite their legal classification due to the incredibly adaptive, hybrid

    framework of Australian WHS laws. Specifically, we advocate for a strategic

    enforcement approach to regulating safe work that draws on both ‘‘command and

    control’’ and ‘‘light touch’’ forms of regulation to ensure safe work practices in

    emerging areas of the economy.

UOW Authors


Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Frino, B. & Sarina, T. (2020). Regulating for safe work in a digital age: building on the adaptive power of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws in Australia. Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 36 (2), 91-102.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/balpapers/67

Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 91

End Page


  • 102

Volume


  • 36

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • Australia

Abstract


  • The current health pandemic brought about by COVID-19 has spurred the growth of

    alternative, digitised forms of contract work in the growing gig economy. This

    growth has been particularly acute in low-paid contingent work such as ride-hailing

    and food delivery services (18). Due to the nature of their work, these workers are

    especially vulnerable to health risks and lack adequate access to employment

    entitlements such as sick leave. Consequently, COVID-19 has created a sense of

    urgency and opportunity for governments and policy makers to re-evaluate

    Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws to ensure that all workers, regardless of

    their legal classification, are able to carry out work safely.

    This brief explores whether the current hybrid form of WHS regulation in Australia is

    well equipped to address these challenges. It builds on current literature that

    considers the challenges in managing WHS matters in this new era of digital work by

    examining the impact of ‘‘command and control’’ and ‘‘light touch’’ forms of

    regulation (14). We propose that workers in modern economies can be afforded WHS

    protections despite their legal classification due to the incredibly adaptive, hybrid

    framework of Australian WHS laws. Specifically, we advocate for a strategic

    enforcement approach to regulating safe work that draws on both ‘‘command and

    control’’ and ‘‘light touch’’ forms of regulation to ensure safe work practices in

    emerging areas of the economy.

UOW Authors


Publication Date


  • 2020

Citation


  • Frino, B. & Sarina, T. (2020). Regulating for safe work in a digital age: building on the adaptive power of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws in Australia. Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 36 (2), 91-102.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/balpapers/67

Number Of Pages


  • 11

Start Page


  • 91

End Page


  • 102

Volume


  • 36

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • Australia