Professor Niki Ellis speaks about OHS, CSR and resilience 2

Next week the National Comcare Conference is held in Melbourne Australia.  One of the keynote speakers at the conference is Professor Niki Ellis, a prominent Australian OHS researchers and consultant  who is also heading up the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR). On a sunny September 5 2011 I was able to spend half and hour with Niki at a noisy cafe outside Victoria’s State Library talking about: The profile of OHS is Australia as a profession The importance of a practical application for OHS research (what Niki refers to as “interventionist research”) The need for innovation More…

France Telecome’s CSR report is telling but sets high expectations Reply

In 2009, France Telecom’s management practices came to global attention as a result of a spate of over 20 suicides that were identified as work-related.  On 6 June 2011, France Telecom released its Corporate Responsibility Report that covers the period of the management turmoil touched upon in earlier SafetyAtWorkBlog articles. The document is an impressive document that sets an enormously high benchmark on a range of corporate and personnel issues but one will find no mention of suicides.  The best indication that this was a company in crisis is the level of inquiries, reviews, audits More…

CSR and public health 4

The recent conference of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) gave considerable attention to corporate social responsibility (CSR).  It could be argued that this shows the ASSE is years behind many others but it could also be argued that CSR has a practical longevity in workplace safety that may have faded in other CSR areas. A recent article in Health Education, “Workplace health promotion within small and medium-sized enterprises” may provide some clues for forward planning on mental health, wellbeing and OHS.  The authors* write: “There needs to be a clear distinction between activities More…

CSR in firing line on asbestos compensation Reply

SafetyAtWorkBlog has not reported on the asbestos compensation problems faced by James Hardie Industries directly because in 2009, the issue is one of corporate responsibility more so than workplace safety.  The reality is that asbestos kills and victims deserve compensation.  The fact that asbestos companies are avoiding their responsibilities is of little surprise. In Australia, most of the focus has been on James Hardie due, principally, to its corporate conduct to the Australian stock exchange and its prosecution by the financial regulators.  But another asbestos miner and building product manufacturer is at the Australian Courts in December 2009. In some ways, More…

Are you ready for the revised AS1657 on walkways, ladders and platforms? Reply

A guest post by Carl Sachs The revised Australian Standard AS1657 for fixed ladders, platforms and walkways released in October 2013 plugs some serious holes. Guard rails made of rubber, for example, are now explicitly unacceptable. While absurd, rubber guard rails technically complied with the 21-year-old AS1657 and the example shows just how sorely an update was needed. Four big changes to AS1657 The biggest changes to AS1657 concern selection, labelling, guardrail testing and the design of fixed ladders.

Chronic asbestos deaths, sudden mining disasters – both indicate deep corporate problems 5

It is less than a week until the premiere of Devil’s Dust, a movie about asbestos in Australia and the corporate maneuverings of James Hardie Industries to minimise its exposure to compensation claims but its lessons spread beyond asbestos to politics, corporate responsibility and individual morality. In a recent article on the movie, the depiction of then New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, was mentioned.  The politics of asbestos is well shown in the Carr depiction.  The asbestos issue seemed to have little importance until a political value was placed on the issue.  Carr, a Labour Party politician, More…

Principled pragmatism – Human Rights included in OHS Due Diligence 3

On 16 August 2012, Australia’s Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, said in Parliament, in relation to new asbestos management initiatives, that” “On 14 March this year, in my first ministerial statement on workplace health and safety in this place, I said that every Australian who goes to work should return home safely. I know both sides of the House endorse this universal human right and today I reaffirm our commitment to this principle…” (page 13, Hansard. emphasis added) It is very common to hear safety professionals and company executives echo the statement that workers should return home in an uninjured state.  But few would More…

The lobbying for “control” impedes corporate and OHS growth 2

“When we look at global trends it’s clear that Australia’s labour laws are not the primary cause of the contraction in manufacturing.” Shelley Marshall, a Monash University researcher and Fair Wear Australia spokesperson made this statement at an Australian Senate inquiry on 2 February, 2012.  The statement, reported in The Australian Financial Review (not available online), was used to illustrate the complexities of outworker protections under the Fair Work Act but it is, occasionally, worth looking a broader context.  If one accepts that workplace safety is a subset of industrial relations laws (as SafetyAtWorkBlog does), Marshall’s More…

Social change through worker dignity 2

The need for food parcels for those on workers’ compensation seems to continue in South Australia according to a 3 July 2010 report in Adelaide Advertiser.  SafetyAtWorkBlog mentioned the service being offered by Rosemary Mackenzie-Ferguson and others in March 2010. There are many areas of society that are supported by privately provided social services and this situation is likely to persist but just as soup kitchens illustrate a problem of poverty, so the food service mentioned above indicates a problem with workers’ compensation. As each Australian state reviews its workers’ compensation laws ahead of a national harmonisation, it seems absurd to focus on the laws but More…

Foxconn worker dies of exhaustion – focus on working hours Reply

On 27 May 2010, a worker at the Foxconn factory in died from overwork, according to a statement released on 4 June 2010 by SACOM.  This coincides with a statement by Hon Hai Precision Industry on 6 June 2002, Hon Hai owns the Foxconn facility in Shenzhen. The SACOM statement reports: “Yan Li, 27, is the latest victim of Foxconn, the manufacturer of iPads and other high-tech items that has experienced a recent rash of worker suicides.  He collapsed and died from exhaustion on 27 May after having worked continuously for 34 hours.  His wife More…