In November 2012, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government released “Getting Home Safely“, a damning report written by Lynette Briggs and Mark McCabe, into the safety culture and performance of that territory’s building and construction industry. But the Master Builders Association of the ACT has rejected several recommendations and questioned many others, yet refuses to release the evidence that it is assumed would support their position.
In February 2013, ACT’s Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, Simon Corbell, accepted all 27 recommendations of the report, much to the surprise of some of us. Corbell said in his media release that
“It is no longer acceptable for people in the construction industry to say there are safety issues in construction sites and then do nothing about them. This report compels unions, employers and government to stand up and actively promote a culture where everyone looks out for their mates, and everyone can go home safely every day…”
“As the report highlights, this is not simply an issue for Government. Safety is an issue for every person on a construction site with principal contractors, sub-contractors, workers, unions and the Regulator all working together.
“The Government expects employers and unions to demonstrate leadership on this issue.”
Safety Leadership or Conspiracy Theory
Today the Master Builders Association of the ACT released its response to “Getting Home Safely” (the Gower review). That response indicates that not all Minister Corbell’s expectations are going to be met with the MBA. In some ways this confirms many of the concerns in the report. More…
Today WorkSafe Victoria launches a new return-to-work campaign which will use Paralympian Jack Swift as the “face” of the campaign. The campaign is sure to be successful but the increasing focus of safety regulators on return-to-work (RTW) may illustrate a growing trend where rehabilitation policy strategies are gaining priority over injury prevention. Yet innovative approaches to injury prevention provide the greatest potential for personal, economic and social savings.
In 2001 WorkCover NSW began its Paralympian Sponsorship Program, a program that continues. The advantage of the New South Wales program is that it features a range of incident scenarios and, most importantly, the paralympians speak about “workplace safety, injury prevention and management and their personal road to recovery, return to work.” (emphasis added) This broad, multi-category approach seems to be missing from the new Victorian campaign. More…
Since the quad bike safety roundtable a couple of months ago, the safety debate about quad bikes has been quiet however, the issue has lost little of its topicality. On 5 December The Weekly Times again devoted its front page, and editorial, to quad bike safety.
The newsworthiness stems from quad bike manufacturer, CFMoto offering
“…the Quadbar device through its dealership across Australia, conceding crush protection for ATVs was “inevitable”.” (link added)
This is a noticeable break from the other motorcycle manufacturers represented in Australia by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). Contrary to the FCAI comments in the article, CFMoto is not a backyard manufacturer. According to its website profile:
“CFMoto’s ATV and UTV range has been the second largest selling throughout much of Europe for the reporting period between the January ’08 and June ’10. And since arriving in Australia has become the fastest growing ATV brand in Australia!” More…
Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to spend some time with the Director of the Victorian Government’s Construction Compliance Code Unit (CCCU), Nigel Hadgkiss. The CCCU and Hadgkiss have been in the Victorian media recently in terms of the CCCU investigation of industrial relations matters in several Grocon construction projects and some discussions with LendLease but an often overlooked, yet significant, element of the Construction Compliance Code is the occupational health and safety obligations. The CCCU has been working on early drafts of a Health and Safety Management Plan (HSMP) with which all those operating under the Code will need to comply.
Many of the questions SafetyAtWorkBlog posed stemmed from a presentation Hadgkiss made at a breakfast seminar on which SafetyAtWorkBlog previously wrote. That article is recommended for background and context.
Nigel Hadgkiss advised that since 1 July 2012 71 companies and associated companies have “signed up” to the Compliance Code with a full awareness that OHS is a key element of compliance.
OHS obligations of unsuccessful tenderers
The Code requires companies tendering for Victorian Government construction work to follow specific OHS obligations, whether they are the successful tenderers or not. In some ways this seem unfair.
Hadgkiss believes that the tenderers to government contracts are well aware of the safety obligations from the outset. From that point they are contractually bound whether they are successful or not.
The increasing prevalence of pictorial social media has generated a surge in organisations generating “infographics” from workplace health and safety statistics Almost always these images are a technique for generating internet traffic through established websites, blogs and other online services. Fundamentally it is stealth advertising for the unwary online user. However, such images have much greater legitimacy when offered by OHS regulators.
In the week prior to its WorkSafe Week 2012, WorkSafe Victoria issued two online infographics as part of a media statement. Both are attractive by their simplicity but the simplicity can also be a problem.
The cost comparison infographic is super general but clearly illustrates that the cost to prevent harm is much less than any fine that may come from prosecution. However, the risk of being prosecuted in Victoria and receiving a monetary penalty seems to be declining as non-pecuniary penalties, such as enforceable undertakings and others, are made available to the Courts.
Fines are only one of the potential costs. An inescapable cost is the cost to the injured worker, the disruption to that worker’s family life, the disruption to the worker’s employer. More…
SafetyAtWorkBlog is proud to accept the honour of being one of the 2012 honorees of LexisNexis’ Top 25 Blogs for Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Issues. According to Lexis Nexis’ website:
“For a number of years now, Australian editor Kevin Jones has been writing and compiling an excellent mix of “news, commentary and opinion” on workplace safety and health in “the Land Down Under.” Aided by several other contributors, Jones offers timely and interesting entries that should interest workers’ compensation professionals in North America, as well. The blog takes a broad and thoughtful swath.”
We strongly recommend that SafetyAtWorkBlog readers look at the other honorees for 2012.
Thank you to all our readers and contributors. We hope to continue for some time.
When one fails in safety management, people can get hurt or die, yet safety professionals and business executives rarely acknowledge this failure, even though companies may plead guilty in court. Instead “mistakes” are made, “deficiencies” are identified and investigations uncover “areas for improvement” but these are rarely described as “failures”.
October 13 was the International Day For Failure (IDFF), a day that is intended to provide a structure for the discussion of failure and how we respond to, and cope with, failure. The quote that most summarises the day is
“Failure is not the enemy, the fear of failure is”.
Part of the impediment for growth in safety management is that people are encouraged to deny liability for their actions. Executives receive legal advice to say as little as possible and to keep as much as possible under legal-client privilege. This is anathema to the principles of safety management that require failures to be acknowledged and for new preventive strategies to be developed. Yes, shit happens but safety management is particularly required to not let the shit happen twice. More…
Workplace safety apps are a fairly new addition to smart technologies and they are of variable quality and application. Below is a quick review of some.
One of the earliest OHS-related apps and most basic was Derek Viner‘s Safety101. This is essentially nothing more than a glossary of risk and safety terminology. It has not been updated since April 2010. The potential of this app beyond student use would be as a base for further construction of a safety-wiki or some other contemporary safety product. The app has several spelling mistakes, needs refreshing as it is showing its age and needs to do so much more so as it is not just an off-Wikipedia curiousity. The content needs to be given to an app-developer to create a more commercial and useful product.
Luxmeter & Luxmeter Pro
Luxmeter is curious app that uses the iPad camera to determine lighting levels. It does not claim to be an official, technical, calibrated light meter but does provide a guide to the lux levels in a range of domestic situations. Should these readings be relied on? Absolutely not.
Luxmeter Pro2 provides a more useful tool as it allows for calibration and more measurement options but as there is no help screen or manual, it is next to useless for the average user.
There are a couple of news aggregators that focus on workplace safety topics such as OH&S (developed by Smart Media Innovations) and Safety News (developed by Safety Culture). Give them a miss and learn how to customise more effective readers and ones that show more respect for copyright. More…
Any professional sees elements of their profession in other walks of life. Police notice infringements when they are off duty. Teachers often continue to instruct or educate when outside of school. Journalist’s conversations with friends often contain pointed questions.
Safety professionals, commonly, extend safety principles to their own behaviours and lives. This can sometimes lead to a heightened intolerance of unsafe behaviour in others but also desires that life operated on safety principles. Today I wondered about the application of the concept of “Reasonably Practicable” in prioritising corporate and personal safety objectives.
I simplified (bastardised, some may say) the Safe Work Australia guideline on reasonably practicable into questions that we should ask in our non-OHS lives but, most importantly, the priority of the reasonable practicable process is retained. The questions, in order of priority are:
- How important is it?
- How harmful could it be?
- What do we know about it?
- How can we control it?
- How much will it cost?
Self-help aficionados may see these as life lessons or criteria that can be applied to many decisions. I agree to some extent but the priority of the questions is of most importance in the decision-making process because it places the issue of cost last. More…
In 2010 the New South Wales Mines Safety Advisory Council (MSAC) released its important Digging Deeper report, proving this industry sector is at the forefront of safety management innovation in Australia. This month MSAC provided an insight into “world-leading” safety with its report “Actions for World-leading Work Health and Safety to 2017“.
The report discusses five strategic areas for attention but of more interest is the elements that MSAC believes represents “world-leading WHS”: