New workplace bullying report raises awareness in UK 1

imageRecently workplace bullying gained increased attention in the United Kingdom due to media report about a discussion paper released by Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

The report called “Seeking better solutions: tackling bullying and ill-treatment in Britain’s workplaces” is a very good summary of thinking on workplace bullying that acknowledges the Australian experience but seems to indicate that Britain remains in the early stages of tacking the workplace bullying situation after a series of false starts on the issue.

SafetyAtWorkBlog posed some questions about this paper to Dr Shainaz Firfiray, Assistant Professor of Organisation & HRM at Warwick Business School and an expert on social identity, work-life balance and ethics.  Her responses are below but before that it is useful to note the key messages of the discussion paper: More…

Time to reassess our approaches to machinery safety Reply

9781472450777.PPC_alternative mobilitesTalking about workplace safety and machine manufacturing is unfashionable, perhaps because Australia’s manufacturing capacity is in strong decline. And occupational health and safety (OHS) seems preoccupied at the moment with psychosocial hazards and wellness.  But one Australian researcher, Elizabeth Bluff, has undertaken an empirical study of safety attitudes, motivations and practice in the manufacturing and OHS regulatory sectors and produced a remarkable book that needs to be read by everyone involved with workplace health and safety.

Bluff writes

“In illuminating the mechanisms underlying manufacturers’ responses for machinery safety the research also makes wider conceptual and theoretical contributions.  It provides insights into knowledge and motivational factors as principal elements shaping firm performance for social and regulatory goals, and advances understanding of how these elements are constituted in the everyday operations of firms and their interactions with external actors.” (page 3)


EU provides clues for improving safety management Reply

Cover of ef1551enThe European Union conducts research into occupational health and safety that, although there may be cultural and legislative differences, deserves attention from outside that geographical region.  Recently EuroFound released its annual review for 2014.  There are a couple of research projects that deserve consideration, particularly return-on-investment in construction safety, violence at work, psychosocial issues and precarious work risks. 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…

Full time at union OHS representatives conference Reply

2015-10-27 HSR Conference brochureThe Health and Safety Representatives’ Conference, organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council as part of Victoria’s WorkSafe Week, was notable for the lack of politics. Previous conferences have often focussed on political campaigns such as Your Rights At Work but this was largely absent from the presentations.  There were some political questions from the floor but that was expected.

The conference had some particular highlights relevant to the broader Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) profession. 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…

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…

Scissor Lifts and safety 5

Caulfield lights2 edited

digitally altered

Workers in scissor lifts often step on railings or overreach placing themselves at risk of falling.  These actions are contrary to the use of plant as usually recommended by  manufacturers and to the usual requirements in an occupational health and safety (OHS) management plan for working in the rail environment.

The actions in these photographs occurred on a Melbourne railway station and in an industry that this author has worked in for the last six years. Photographs never show the entire facts of a situation and there are many assumptions and what-if scenarios about which these photos could, and should, start discussions. The following discussion of occupational health and safety management issues focuses on the facts presented by the photos*.


Safety learnings from construction 11

Kevin Jones 2015

The author onsite earlier this year

I have recently finished some years of full-time work as a safety adviser on a range of construction projects in Australia and below is a list of some of what I have learnt (in no particular order).

Ask questions

People may initially think you are an idiot but, if you are genuinely interested, they will explain what they are doing (usually with some pride in their tone) and offer suggestions of how to do it better or safer.

Follow through

If you have said that you will look into an issue or provide additional information, do it. If you do not, your credibility with the worker you were talking with and, likely, their supervisor and workmates, is gone. More…