Several years ago, at a workshop over the development of the next Australian National Strategy for occupational health and safety (OHS), participants were asked to forecast an issue that would appear or be useful in the next decade. I suggested sub-dermal implants that would record or transmit real-time health data. My suggestion was received with laughter and a little bit of horror.
The sub-dermal implants for OHS monitoring are yet to occur but the electronic collation of important health data has progressed to a high level of relevance. This not only involves measuring body stresses but the bodies themselves. More…
Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) recently revealed some early research into the Return on Investment (ROI) of occupational health and safety (OHS) controls. (Thanks to a reader for pointing it out) According to its website:
“Recent pilot research in several Queensland organisations found clear evidence of the cost effectiveness of safety interventions, including:
- an automatic shrink wrapping machine at Rexel’s Tingalpa distribution centre that had an ROI of around $1.82 for every $1 of costs, and a payback of upfront costs of less than three years
- an ergonomics intervention at BP Wild Bean Cafés with an ROI of $2.74 for every $1 of costs and a payback within the first month
- a workplace health and wellbeing program at Port of Brisbane that had an ROI of $1.58 for every $1 of costs and a payback of 15 months.”
None of this “pilot research” is publicly available so it is not possible to verify the data. (WHSQ has been contacted for further information for a follow up blog article) More…
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has a strong commitment to safe and healthy workplaces in Australia and would likely assert that nothing is more important than the safety of workers. However the latest submission to government on economic and social reform, “Building a Better Future – a Strong Economy for All” (not yet available online), has missed the chance to bring occupational health and safety (OHS) into the current policy debate on economic and productivity reforms. More…
Any blog about occupational health and safety (OHS) will write repeatedly about leadership. Safe Work Australia advocates leadership as beneficial to OHS:
“When leaders make sure all business risks, including work health and safety, are effectively managed, and continually monitor and review all areas of their business’ performance, they will be open to opportunities for innovation, and alert to emerging hazards.”
But leadership requires someone to apply it and often, in the OHS sphere, people wait for others to show leadership rather than seeing their own potential. More…
Since the release of the 2015 Citi report into the occupational health and safety (OHS) performance of the companies in the ASX200 stick exchange rankings, this blog has received many requests for a copy of the report to assist in the benchmarking of performance. Clearly performance indicators for OHS remain contentious and difficult but this does not need to be the case.
Citi’s recent report stated that key performance indicators (KPIs) should meet three needs:
- “internal monitoring for continuous improvement to reduce incidents;
- benchmarking and sharing lessons within the industry; and
- transparent disclosure to stakeholders.”
In early June 20915, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) provided a case study of agricultural safety and the importance of safety culture – Raby Stud, part of Hassad Australia. The study shows great potential but the promotion of this case study would be more convincing if more OHS detail was available and if there was better coordination of its media.
RIRDC emphasised that:
“The injury rate is now close to zero at ‘Raby Stud’, near Warren in New South Wales, thanks to the attitude that ‘it won’t happen to me’ is simply not good enough to ensure everyone gets home safely to their families every night.”
On 1 June 2015 Australia’s Radio National broadcast a discussion about the future of work, in support of a Vivid Festival conference. Listening to the discussion through the prism of occupational health and safety (OHS) is an interesting experience as work/life balance is promoted as empowering the individual but, as we know in OHS, individuals often sacrifice their safety for income or deadlines or project demands, contrary to their legislative obligations. The workplace flexibility that many people seek allows the individual to manage the workload and develop or design the working environment. In other terms they establish an unregulated workplace. So what influence will OHS have in these new and emerging workplace configurations? Probably very little.
ABC’s Natasha Mitchell spoke with the curator of the conference Jess Scully. The context seems to be workplace flexibility, primarily, in the creative industries but not exclusively. Mitchell says that this increased flexibility can be seen in an increase in short-term contracts, job insecurity and “inadequate conditions” to which can be added unsafe work environments. More…
Each Australian State conducts its own occupational health and safety (OHS) awards. It has been a long-held tradition that the winners of these awards are entered into the national OHS awards conducted by Safe Work Australia. No more. The national awards have been quietly dropped.
Safe Work Australia has decided to end the national awards just over a year since the Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz, stated:
“I am delighted to see individuals, small businesses and large organisations finding solutions to make their workplaces safer….
“Their commitment and passion has made a difference in the community and ensured safer workplaces leading to more people getting home safely to their families.
“The leadership and innovation of people and organisations like those celebrated at the Awards that not only helps to reduce the number of workplace deaths and injuries but also helps to create a positive workplace culture.”
The 2014 media release went on to state:
“The Safe Work Australia Awards showcase the best workplace safety solutions, innovations and systems across our nation and are a celebration of what can be achieved to reduce workplace incidents and deaths.”
One of the most significant motivators for changes in safety leadership in the executive circles in Australia has been the obligation to apply due diligence to occupational health and safety (OHS) matters. The obligation has existed for several years now but is still dominated by legal interpretations rather than managerial ones. To support the legal obligations, OHS professionals should look at how they can add value to due diligence. One way of achieving, and exceeding, compliance of due diligence would be to subject OHS systems and strategies to a peer-review rather than a narrow audit process. More…
On 27 October 2014 the Safety Institute of Australia, with the support of RMIT University conducted a seminar on safety in the construction industry. As with the event last year the issue of Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) dominated the conversation. The same frustrations were expressed as last year – SWMS are too big and complex, they are demanded for tasks they are not legislatively required for, they are rarely read, they are rarely reviewed and they are written only in English. What was missing was an indication of who is (over)demanding SWMS and why.
The seminar contained one client representative experienced in major construction projects who said that he was not directly involved with SWMS as the contract demands only that work is undertaken safely with predetermined levels of risk and reward. That level of safety may or may not involve the use of SWMS – SWMS were not prescribed.
He did not review SWMS unless there was a specific reason and most of the time there was not. It could be argued that too much involvement by the client in how the project is to be completed implies a shared OHS responsibility with the client, changing the client/contractor relationship.
One construction industry representative said that they have been able to reduce the number of SWMS to around twenty types for each of the active construction projects. This has been achieved by limiting the SWMS to the 19 high risk tasks identified in safety legislation. It was significant that this perspective came from the top-level of construction companies, the Tier Ones. More…