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…
Susan Fleming, Managing Director of Acting Consulting Training Australia attended a breakfast seminar on November 10 2015 and has provided this guest post .
“We have been shouting about safety for some time and in contrast whispering about well-being and health in the workplace. We need to address this as a matter of urgency”
Judith Hackitt, Chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive addressed the issue of University of Western Australia Centre For Safety (UWA Centre for Safety) breakfast on 10 November 2015.
In a prudent and well-programmed session, the UWA Centre for Safety inspired good debate about the business impact the well-being of employees is having on the workplace. More…
On November 9 2015, WorkSafe Victoria charged the Essendon Football Club with breaches of the occupational health and safety (OHS) law over its controversial supplements program. This blog has watched how the Australian Football League (AFL), in particular, has acknowledged its OHS obligations and duties. This interest has been shared by Dr Eric Windholz who wrote about the charges today.
Windholz acknowledges that WorkSafe Victoria has established a formal presence in professional sports with its decision to prosecute. More…
Several 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…
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…
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*.
There is no doubt that football fields are the workplaces of professional football players and their support staff. So they are covered by occupational health and safety (OHS) and/or work health and safety (WHS) laws but what does this mean in relation to OHS regulators, and the sportspeople’s employers? Recently Eric Windholz looked at this particular issue.
Windholz recently published “Professional Sport, Work Health and Safety Law and Reluctant Regulators” in which he states:
“The application of WHS law to professional sport is almost absent from practitioner and academic discourse. An examination of the websites of Australia’s WHS and sport regulators reveals none contains WHS guidance directed to professional sports.” (page 1, references are included in the paper)
The example he uses to show this apparent lack of interest, even by the Victorian OHS regulator, WorkSafe Victoria, is the Essendon Football Club supplements saga. Windholz writes
“Had these events occurred in the construction, manufacturing or transport industry, for example, it is difficult to imagine WHS regulators not intervening. Yet, WorkSafe Victoria initially was reluctant to investigate choosing to defer to ‘more appropriate bodies’. It only commenced an investigation when compelled by a request from a member of the public.” (page 2)
Recently I was telling a colleague to temper their online video strategy and consider extracting the audio tracks from which a podcast strategy coud be developed. The advantage of podcasts is they can be listened to, be more portable, less distraction and, I think, can be more powerful. Earlier this week I listened to a Canadian podcast/documentary about the familial and social effects of a workplace death in the 1950s.
“What can you tell me about Stanley?” is not a contrived plea for greater focus on workplace fatalities, as we often get from occupational health and safety regulators. It is a snippet of family history, a painful and secret family history about the death of an uncle and a brother in a steel mill in the 1950s. The podcast looks at coronial records, company records, notes taken at the time by Stanley’s brother and shows that shame that many feel around workplace deaths now, existed then.
I listened to the podcast several days ago but I shiver now when I recall some of the pain and surprise that the family experienced.
“What Can You Tell Me About Stanley” can be listened to as a straight tale of a workplace death and the way such an incident was perceived in the 1950s. But just as importantly, this should convince people of the power of simplicity in storytelling and social media. The documentary obviously took months to put together and the revelations to the family are clearly not linear but this effort provides a fascinating 30 minutes for your attention.
Think of Stanley when you are applying your OHS skills. You’ll be better for it.
In 2010 Queensland’s former Attorney-General Cameron Dick said of enforceable undertakings that:
“Enforceable undertakings promote the introduction of long-lasting and more wide-ranging safety changes that would not have occurred under the prosecutorial system that imposes fines after the event.”
Enforceable Undertakings can be a powerful force for improving occupational health and safety (OHS) but they could also be used by employers to forestall investment in OHS and minimise the financial penalties should an incident occur.
Several years ago, WorkSafe Victoria published “Dairy Safety: A Practical Guide“* A decade on Dairy Australia has published its career guidance “Stepping Stones” which seems to imply that not all employers and workers have a legislative responsibility to work safely and without harming others.
It is a legislative truism that “safety is everyone’s responsibility” and Dairy Australia advises that
“All farm businesses have an obligation under law to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees, contractors, family, visitors and members of the public. Farm businesses who don’t act to fulfil health and safety responsibilities face significant fines and penalties.”
However according to Stepping Stones only some dairy roles have an overt occupational health and safety obligation. More…