OHS and the Trans-Pacific Partnership 2

Cover of TPP Text 061115Several weeks ago I was asked by a trade unionist to make a submission to the Australian Government explaining how the impending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be bad for worker safety.  I acknowledged concerns over labour relations but pointed out that no matter who is working in an Australian workplace, their safety must be managed.  Whether they are a migrant worker of full-time employee was not relevant to the management of their occupational health and safety (OHS).  The trade unionist was disappointed.

Now the full text of the TPP has been released it is possible to look for any direct OHS impacts of the agreement. More…

Golden Rule, ethics, leadership and workplace safety 1

There is a legislative basis for occupational health and safety (OHS) but before the laws, there was morality and it is this morality to which most OHS professionals will refer when asked why they work in Safety. But I know no more about morality than anyone else.  So what do I do in these situations? I get a book.

The book I chose was by Julian Baggini, called Ethics – The Big Questions. (Unless you want to look intellectual, I’d get the e-book) More…

Another mental health player joins the discussion 3

Pages from EY Putting our minds to it - Addressing mental health-2Recently, Ernst Young released a discussion paper about the risks of mental health in the workplace.

Mental health is a very popular topic at the moment and there are thousands of service providers in this sector. During the recent National Mental Health Week, statistics on the costs associated with mental health provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) seemed to be the only figures referenced.  Ernst Young (EY) has taken a different approach.  Rather than trying to develop its own cost estimate, it has looked to the existing data.  It is particularly good that Australia’s Workplace Barometer is referenced. More…

Half time at union OHS representatives conference 4

image1300 occupational health and safety representatives in one room provides a great deal of passion about workplace safety.  These are not the OHS suits, the regulators or the safety app spruikers that other conferences attract.

There is talk about safety leadership but few are thinking about the CEOs.  They see leadership in themselves. Indeed, it may be a major step forward for the OHS sector to start to separate OHS leaders from OHS leadership.  The room this morning had hundreds of OHS leaders. More…

Bus Association provides fresh and different guidance on workplace mental health Reply

Cover of Bus_Industry_Wellness_-_A_Guide_For_Managers_-_Oct_2015Occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators seem comparatively quiet on the issue of mental health in workplaces.  But this is not deterring industry associations from releasing their own guidance on psychosocial issues.  Several weeks ago the Minerals Council of Australia released its guide, this week the Bus Association of Victoria released three guides about workplace mental health, one for managers, one for operators and leaders and one for everyone.  The most significance difference about these guides is the level of customer contact and the isolation of bus drivers. More…

Inspectors and Health and Wellbeing Advisers 2

On 30 September 2015, SafetyAtWorkBlog highlighted a conversation about inspector numbers from the Tasmanian Parliament.  The information was confusing but crucial in understanding WorkSafe Tasmania’s occupational health and safety enforcement capacity and strategy.

Below are some questions posed to WorkSafe Tasmania in an attempt to clarify the issues and the OHS regulator’s replies. Two responses prompted comment on workplace health and wellbeing strategies. More…

Psychology of aggression and risk control Reply

Recently an Australian law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills, conducted a series of seminars that provided a different perspective on issues related to workplace mental health and safety.  Dr Lisa Warren of Code Black Threat Management explained her typology of aggressive personalities that can exist in Australian workplaces and defined the psychological profiles of aggressors, stalkers and others.  A discussion of occupational violence from the “traditional” occupational health and safety (OHS) context shows how Dr Warren’s research may help address the potential harm presented by “badly behaved people”. More…

Insecure work inquiries should embrace and expand the safe system of work 1

Cover of Labour Hire Discussion paperThe Victorian Government has just released its first discussion paper into labour hire practices and insecure work. As has been discussed when the Inquiry was announced, occupational health and safety (OHS) is part of this inquiry but OHS will only gain the attention it deserves if someone advocates on behalf of worker safety exclusively and thinks about safety in this sector, differently. More…

Safety wisdom from 1970 2

Robens Human EngineeringWhile researching a blog article I found a 1970 copy of Lord Robens‘ book “Human Engineering”.  On page 124 of that book, Robens writes:

“The apathy towards safety in most industry results in the misuse of safety officers, where they exist. Indeed there are basically two types of safety officers: the professional performing his life’s work, and the man appointed (usually from the shop floor) so that the company can claim to have a safety officer. The latter usually does not posses the experience or training to undertake the vast amount of work expected of him. It has been mooted that standard would be raised by creating a professional status for these officials: an idea that should not be dismissed lightly.”

Such an attitude to workplace safety by many businesses continues to exist.

And if Robens thought that a professional status for safety officers was a good idea in 1970, how come Australia has only just instigated one?  Why did it take so long?  Why was professional status not considered necessary for over 40 years?

(For Australian readers here is a list of public libraries, or bookshops, that stock the Robens book. OHS students may find it offers a fascinating comparative study)

Kevin Jones

Stirring the OHS pot 9

I was honoured to speak recently at the monthly meeting of the Central Safety Group.  As the meeting occurred during Safe Work Australia Month it seemed appropriate to stir debate about the nature of occupational health and safety (OHS) and how it applied.

Here is a selection of points that I intended to make. Discussion developed in a manner that allowed for many of these to be only touched upon but that was the intention of the presentation – to encourage OHS professionals to talk about OHS rather than about specific hazards. More…