Quad bike safety discussion is maturing 1

New research into quad bike safety by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) shows increasing maturity in the discussions on the safety of quad bikes and farms. According to a 2 September report on Australian ABC radio, more attention is now needed for quadbike rider’s actions, workplace conditions and choices.

The attention on the suitability and design of quad bikes has dominated the safety debate over the last few years.  There is no doubt that the design of quadbikes could have been made safer, or that new vehicle models offer better stability or that Operator Protection Devices (OPDs) offer a safety improvement.

The focus on riders has been almost exclusively about “active riding” techniques and the use and suitability of personal protective equipment, such as helmets. More…

More care needed in discussing workplace mental health and mental illness Reply

Writing about workplace mental health is a tricky task.  An article recently posted to Business News Western Australia shows how tricky it can be and how mental health can be misinterpreted as mental illness.

The headline, “Are you one of the 20% of workers that will experience a mental health issue?” clearly refers to workers but the first sentence of the article does not.  “Australian adults” are not all “workers”.

Out of the total population of around 24 million Australians, Wikipedia estimates the working-age population of Australia (15 – 64 years) at round 67% (16 million, approximately). If we apply these statistics to the headline, there are 3.2 million workers who “will experience a mental health issue”. But is this annually, over one’s working life or over a lifetime? The article does not say.

Not only are the statistics messy, so is the terminology. More…

Do you make any money from this blog? 2

Recently there have been several local Australian kerfuffles about freelance writing.  I have experienced similar issues and many readers I meet ask me this question – “do you make money from the SafetyAtWorkBlog?”

The short answer is “No”.  But this is too simple.  Readers do not pay me for access and there is no advertising on the blog. However, what the SafetyAtWorkBlog has done has increased my professional profile in the Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) sector so that my consulting and writing has a higher value.

Last week a content provider contacted me to discuss me writing articles for them.  They read my blog articles and liked what they saw.  They offered a “word rate” of A$0.40 – a word rate is a rate that, for instance, would offer A$200.00 for a 500 word article. Such a word rate may have been legitimately offered twenty years ago but small business costs have increased enormously since then. More…

Old school OHS in mining Reply

Cover of RP_SeriousInjuryReportMINING2015In August 2015, Western Australia’s Department of Mines & Petroleum (DMP) released a statistical analysis that seems to do little more than confirm what is already known.  It is important to validate data but the mining sector often promotes itself as leading in occupational health and safety (OHS) but this report seems dull and dated. More…

OHS and the politics of fear 2

Occupational health and safety (OHS) cannot exist outside social, economic and political contexts. Some OHS professionals try to convince themselves that OHS is a special case but to do so ignores the components of change that need to be addressed in order to improve workplace safety. There are parallels between OHS and contemporary political thought. More…

Unfair expectations on the individual 1

Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a justifiably respected business publication but it often sells occupational health and safety (OHS) short.  A new HBR article, “Stress Is Your Brain Trying to Avoid Something“, is a case in point.

Too much of the contemporary approaches to psychosocial hazards at work focus on the individual without addressing the organisational.  This often compounds the struggles of individual workers and encourages managers to blame workers instead of analysing the organisational and cultural factors that lead to a hazard or incident. More…

5 experts in 60 minutes Reply

Host: ISCRR's Jason Thompson

Host: ISCRR’s Jason Thompson

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) has tried a new format for its occupational health and safety (OHS) seminars.  It is not a lunch with a single presenter and it is not a Three-Minute Thesis.  It is five safety researchers in one hour, seven minutes per person and a single question from the floor – and it worked. More…

Analysing safety leadership can be distracting 2

Any blog about occupational health and safety (OHS) will write repeatedly about leadership.  Safe Work Australia advocates leadership as beneficial to OHS:

“When leaders make sure all business risks, including work health and safety, are effectively managed, and continually monitor and review all areas of their business’ performance, they will be open to opportunities for innovation, and alert to emerging hazards.”

But leadership requires someone to apply it and often, in the OHS sphere, people wait for others to show leadership rather than seeing their own potential. More…

National OHS performance indicators needed 2

Since the release of the 2015 Citi report into the occupational health and safety (OHS) performance of the companies in the ASX200 stick exchange rankings, this blog has received many requests for a copy of the report to assist in the benchmarking of performance. Clearly performance indicators for OHS remain contentious and difficult but this does not need to be the case.

Citi’s recent report stated that key performance indicators (KPIs) should meet three needs:

  • “internal monitoring for continuous improvement to reduce incidents;
  • benchmarking and sharing lessons within the industry; and
  • transparent disclosure to stakeholders.”

More…

Safety is missing from the political lexicon Reply

At the moment in Australia, a political debate is gathering momentum over the creation of jobs at the expense of the environment. This, largely, ideological argument is an example of free market vs regulation and short-term vs sustainability in the context of job creation.  In 2013, this blog noted the absence of “Safety” in the jobs debate, a similar omission to the current debate. More…