|dc.description.abstract||What is the effect of occupational health and safety regulator intervention on the Australian Army?
Purpose: The purpose of this research was to investigate how Regulator intervention influenced the Australian Army’s behavioural compliance, after changes to OHS legislation, and how outcome performance could be measured. Military members are trained for brinkmanship, to positively navigate the edge between recklessness and risk avoidance, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. The removal of Crown exemption from Commonwealth OHS legislation in 2004 was followed by a series of prosecutions of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), particularly the Australian Army, for death and serious injury in training. This provided a unique opportunity to study what interventions are most effective, how regulator intervention prevents harm, and how that could be measured in a high-risk work environment.
Methods: A literature review identified the most effective interventions were new OHS regulations and regulatory inspections. A model for regulatory intervention was developed, showing regulatory and contextual factors that influence a decision to comply. A case study of the death of Trooper Angus Lawrence from heat stroke in 2004 was undertaken, to determine which factors most influenced behavioural compliance in the Army. The model had to be redesigned into a matrix to show how factors overlap in the real world. Available data sets were reviewed to assess if changes in incident and injury rates could be linked to intervention, and provide a performance measure for the Regulator.
Results: Combined regulatory factors had more influence than contextual factors. The most significant regulatory factors affecting decision making were reduced awareness and perception of relevance, which contributed to a reduced understanding of how to comply at the operational level of decision-making.
Non-regulatory contextual factors were less evident, but more influential at the tactical level, and could be improved by Regulator communication penetrating the Army workplace. Comcare lacked a network to communicate external legislative requirements because ADF members are exempt from consultative arrangements which undermined a key objective of the OHS Act.
The absence of trained uniformed Health and Safety Representatives in the workplace, empowered to stop work, was a key factor. Fear of prosecution and penalties were not influential in decision making. Ability and willingness to comply became evident after a breach was detected and understood.
Comcare did not have access to reliable injury data for the ADF or Army because rehabilitation and compensation arrangements were historically complicated, and Defence members are not included in key national data sets. The frequency and severity of data on heat illness in the Defence incident data base was not considered reliable, therefore the effect of changes to the OHS Act on performance outcomes could not be measured.
Conclusions: The effect of OHS regulator intervention on the Australian Army could not be reliably measured. Changes to the OHS Act in 2004 were not associated with improvements in regulatory administration or behavioural compliance in the Army, and regulator performance could not be reliably measured. This thesis questions if Defence Declarations and Exemptions from consultative arrangements are still relevant, or if they create unintended liability for military commanders.||