Earlier this year Victorian MP and Minister for Small Business, Adem Somyurek, was accused of bullying his Chief of Staff, Dimity Paul. This week, Somyurek resigned from his Cabinet position but not without a press conference in which he stated that the issue was political payback and that his resignation is no admission of guilt.
As you can see from this very brief summary, party politics has infested this instance of workplace bullying, and to such an extent that the important and solid investigation report into the incident is being missed. The reports are publicly available and deserve to be carefully considered rather than relying on some of the current media coverage. More…
Most 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…
Last week it was the Citi Safety Spotlight on ASX100, now it’s the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) with data on workplace safety and mental health of the S&P/ASX200. The good news is the ACSI report is publicly available for download. The bad news is that the report is very limited. More…
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.
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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.”
In September 2015 Dr Matthew Hallowell will be speaking at the National Convention of the Safety Institute of Australia. Hallowell is a bit of an unknown to the Australian occupational health profession so SafetyAtWorkBlog posed a couple of questions to him as an introduction.
SAWB: Is it possible to establish trust and open communication in a company or industry sector, that has a fractious industrial relations relationship with trade unions?
MH: “This is a truly fundamental question to the industry that applies broadly to all project management functions, not just safety.
I think trust can be developed more easily in the context of safety (rather than productivity, for example) because safety involves altruism. I think trust is most dependent on the extent to which the various organizations on a project are willing, able, and encouraged to work together to solve a problem regardless of the contract structure.
In my opinion, integrated project delivery and design-build project delivery methods offer us a new opportunity to work together and build trust because there are more shared objectives and shared incentives.
The traditional lump-sum, design-bid-build contracting strategies with typical regulations around the world (e.g., OSHA that places safety responsibility solely on the contractors and subs), severely limits the opportunity to work together on any one goal.”
As the Australian Government analyses the productivity of the workplace it is vital that that analysis reflects the modern workplace and management practice. At the moment Australian workplaces are awash with training programs focusing on resilience and happiness, implying that each individual can change and improve a workplace culture but there has always been an undercurrent of manipulation to these courses and seminars. A new book by William Davies provides a fresh perspective that, rightly, questions the motives behind this modern trend and provides an important historical context. (For those who can’t purchase the book but want to know more, look at this series of articles)
Davies’s book, “The Happiness Industry – How the Government and Big Business Sold Us well-Being”“, is a big picture look at the economics and politics of happiness but has direct relevance to the workplace and occupational health and safety (OHS) as well-being and mental health has become increasingly influential in managing workers and their safety. Davies writes that since the 1990s: More…
One of the professional disciplines that has had the biggest impact on occupational health and safety (OHS) management in Australia has been sociology but that influence seems to be waning as it fails to compete with the managerial imperative of short-termism and the quick fix.
This demand for a quick fix is partly a result of the increased sensitivity to reputational damage of both the organisation and the executive. This can be seen by the increasing attention to apparent solutions to safety problems of the individual worker, for instance, resilience training which is primarily about the individual toughening up. Neuroplasticity has entered OHS by saying that the individual can reconfigure their brain to, somehow, work more safely. Of course, the ultimate short-term solution to most workplace problems has existed for years – sack the worker.
All of this denies the organisational influence on workers, managers and executives because organisational change is hard and it takes time, both are challenges that do not fit with modern expectations of business.
One of the clearest examples of the inability or unwillingness of executives to improve OHS through organisational change is the management of workplace bullying. More…
On 28 April 2015, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the Legislative Assembly of the Tasmanian Parliament discussed the significance of that day as a Matter of Public Importance. The discussion cannot be described as a debate but it does provide some insight to the ideologies of the political parties in that Parliament, which is almost a microcosm of Australian politics, and the general quality of understanding of occupational health and safety (OHS) management.
One of the fundamental pieces of information for such a day would be an accurate number of workplace fatalities. The Leader of the Opposition, Bryan Green (Australian Labor Party), made a basic faux pas by stating that the total number of workplace fatalities for 2014 was 44 when the figure was for deaths occurring in 2015 (the official figure for 2015 is now 51). Later that evening, he corrected himself saying that this did not change his argument about the importance of inspectors but it does, and it was embarrassing.
Green listed the number of inspectors lost from Workplace Standards (WorkSafe Tasmania), Tasmania’s OHS regulator. The inspection capacity of an OHS regulator is relevant to any discussion on OHS but Green overstates the role of the regulator, as most Labor Party and trade union speakers do. OHS and Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws clearly state it is the employer of Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) who has the principal OHS duty. Workers have a similar responsibility. The regulator is not a dutyholder for anyone other than its own employees according to WorkSafe Tasmania’s Guide to WHS Act. More…
How language can change in only a little time! Earlier this month, SafetyAtWorkBlog wrote on the OHS context of the departure of Orica’s CEO, Ian Smith. In a liftout (not available online) in the Australian Financial Review, many of the same questions were asked by its Chanticleer columnist, Tony Boyd. The issues raised by the poor decisions of the board are a useful reminder of one of the potential contributory factors for the occupational and mental health of employees.
At last, one writer in the business press is describing Smith’s behaviour as it was – “…aggressive verbal, foul-mouthed abuse” when Smith “blew his top” and “humiliated” an employee.
This is much more direct language than that used in earlier media reporting where the carefully selected language of corporate media releases was reiterated. To understand the seriousness of the issue, it is necessary to describe actions accurately.
“…why a 21st-century board of directors would deliberately seek a CEO with an “aggressive management style”.