Leadership or cowardice? 3

Few would argue against the need for occupational health and safety (OHS) regulation for high-risk work but many are arguing against OHS laws on the basis of low-risk workplaces. It seems logical that low risk work should not require laws but perhaps the traditional definition of OHS and risk is colouring our judgement. Perhaps some are making these arguments because they are afraid to change. Perhaps some of these leaders are, in fact, cowards.

New Zealand

There is discussion in New Zealand currently about exempting small “low-risk” businesses from some OHS obligations in the name of “red tape” but also on the understanding that small business seems to equal low risk.  (Similar discussions, or changes, have occurred in the UK, Australia and the US) More…

Hackett bemoans fluffy OHS cost estimates Reply

The quest for accurate determination of the costs of poor occupational health and safety (OHS) has been a regular discussion point in this blog but the quest may be a never-ending one and ultimately pointless.

Recently the UK’s HSE Chairman, Judith Hackett took the Forum for Private Business (FPB) to task over estimates of OHS compliance costs.  FPB stated that

“The cost of compliance for the UK’s 1.2 million micro, small and medium sized businesses is £20 billion of actual costs and £41 billion if you include opportunity costs’.”

Hackett was unable to look at the claims as the FPB report was only for members.  This is a common marketing tactic where some information is released publicly in order to generate a demand which can be satisfied only with a membership or payment.  The downside of this tactic is that the carefully constructed statements become accepted as fact without allowing those facts to be independently verified. More…

PC report questions bullying processes 1

Cover of PC workplace-relations-draftAustralia’s Productivity Commission (PC) has released its draft report into the Workplace Relations Framework.  All morning talk radio has been discussion the issue of penalty rates but there are safety-related elements that should not be forgotten. Bullying is the most obvious of these.

The overview of the Draft Report hints that the level of resources required to administer the bullying provision in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) may be excessive given the tidal wave of applications did not eventuate. More…

Coronial findings and research – another step on the rocky road 8

cover of Final_Summary_Report4-QBPP_Test_Results_Concl_Recom_Jan-2015The final report into quadbike safety has finally been released by the University of New South Wales in a series of five papers and in the wake of Queensland coronial findings into nine quadbike-related deaths. (A New South Wales inquiry is currently underway)

It has been a rocky road to get to this report as a search of this blog will show but the recommendations are solid with many already being flagged by various safety regulators and others requiring much more consultation. The trick will be to accept the evidence and progress safety – not likely on the experience of the last four years. More…

Learning safety and leadership from drama 1

Fukushima playMost professionals, including occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals, support the use of stories or narratives or case studies to explain complex scenarios and situations.  Recently, at the ProSafe 2015 conference in Melbourne, acting and theatrical skills were used to illustrate the humanity behind the nuclear disaster of Fukushima.

To the uninitiated this may sound like quantitative risk assessment of underground mining being explained through interpretative dance by bandicoots, but the actors in the Fukushima disaster scenario were captivating and the power of theatre, even in this small-scale and on a conference podium, was powerful, stimulating and engaging. And with a Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle operating in South Australia, super-topical. More…

Citi’s Safety Spotlight report discussed 1

Recently a couple of media outlets referred to a report produced by Citi into workplace safety issues related to the top 100 companies on the Australian stock exchange.  The report, seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog, “Safety Spotlight: ASX100 Companies & More” (not available online), provides a useful insight to the ASX100 companies’ safety performance but Citi also undertook several thematic analyses which are curious but not always as helpful as expected.

To read the full article, complete the contact form below stating “Please allow me access to the Citi blog article” and a password will be emailed to you, as soon as possible.



Carrillo on leadership and communication 1

Rosa Carrillo of Carrillo & Associates, describes herself as a “thought leader in transformational leadership for environment, safety and health” with a “unique understanding of safety culture and complex environments”. Prior to her attendance as a keynote speaker at the SIA National Convention in September SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to ask Rosa Carrillo about leadership, trust and communication.

Carrillo is aware of the risk of transferring concepts and practices rather than translating them and tailoring them to local needs. She told SafetyAtWorkBlog:

“I am afraid that one of my core principles is that you can’t just take what someone else did to address human behavior and implement it with “minimal translation” even if it was developed in your own country. You can certainly do that more readily with technology, but even then you must customize its introduction. Most leading edge thinkers in the safety field agree that benchmarking leads you down the rose garden path. You spend lots of money and feel you are doing the right thing until the next disaster emerges.”


Blog in OHS small business research Reply

Cover of A Once in a Generation Opportunity_ Narratives about the PotentRecently a reader brought to our attention a research report from Edith Cowan University that used SafetyAtWorkBlog as an important source of occupational health and safety (OHS) dialogue. “A ‘Once in a Generation Opportunity’? Narratives about the Potential Impact of OHS Harmonisation on Smaller Firms in Australia” by Rowena Barrett, Susanne Bahn, and Susan Mayson, illustrates, amongst many things, that social media can be a useful source of information for OHS research.

The main article referred to in the paper is one concerning lawyer Andrew Douglas with most attention given to the comments.

Barrett, Bahn and Mason have continued to research how OHS is seen by the small business sector in Australia. A more recent (2013) paper, available online, is called “The unmet promise of occupational health and safety harmonisation: continued complexity for small, multi-jurisdictional firms“.

Kevin Jones

10 (better) questions organisations should be asking about workplace bullying 2

On 14 July 2015, Russell Kennedy lawyers published an article “10 better questions organisations should be asking about workplace bullying”. The article is a great example of the type of advice about workplace bullying that lawyers provide to companies.  It is good advice but is limited by the legal process.

Here are my alternate, or complementary, 10 questions for an organisation to ask about workplace bullying, in no particular order: More…

SWMS – the infectious safety weed 18

Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) professional, Paul Breslin, is continuing his research into the use and application of the Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) in the construction industry.  His latest paper, recently published in the Journal of Health, Safety and Environment (subscription only) asks an important question:

“If administrative controls are one of the lowest levels of control measures under the hierarchy of control, why has the Safe Work Method Statement become a central element in ensuring safety in the Australian construction industry?”

Breslin’s article title summarises the frustration of many OHS professionals where safety relies on lower order controls of the Hierarchy of Control, such as the administrative controls like SWMS. More…