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)


Bridging Health and Safety, a matter of urgency as well as good business sense? Reply

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”

Perth breakfast seminar 101115Judith 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…

“Old” documents improve the context of modern OHS initiatives 6

cover of Professional Development Needs of Generalist OHS PractitionersSeveral long and involved phone conversations resulted from last week’s articles on Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Body of Knowledge (BoK) and its role in accreditation of tertiary OHS courses.  It is worth looking at the origins of some of the issues behind the research on these safety initiatives.

One important document was published by the National OHS Commission (NOHSC, a forerunner of Safe Work Australia) in 1999 – “Professional Development Needs of Generalist OHS Practitioners“* .  This NOHSC document continues to be referenced in the continuing debates listed above and illustrates the need to understand our recent OHS past. More…

OHS formally enters professional sports 3

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…

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…

OHS and the Trans-Pacific Partnership 2

Cover of TPP Text 061115Several 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…

Is Australia’s OHS Body of Knowledge a dud? 1

An online version of Safety Science includes an article by Gunther Paul and Warwick Pearse who discuss “An international benchmark for the Australian OHS Body of Knowledge” (paywalled). Paul and Pearse have been critical of the emphasis given the OHS Body of Knowledge (OHS BoK) in the the accreditation processes of Australian OHS professionals and the accreditation of tertiary OHS courses.  In this article they benchmarked the OHS BoK against three other international bodies of knowledge and ranked it the lowest in quality, structure and content.

[This article can be read as a companion piece to an article published earlier today] More…

OHS ROI pilot research in Queensland Reply

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…

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…

Inspectors and Health and Wellbeing Advisers 2

On 30 September 2015, SafetyAtWorkBlog highlighted a conversation about inspector numbers from the Tasmanian Parliament.  The information was confusing but crucial in understanding WorkSafe Tasmania’s occupational health and safety enforcement capacity and strategy.

Below are some questions posed to WorkSafe Tasmania in an attempt to clarify the issues and the OHS regulator’s replies. Two responses prompted comment on workplace health and wellbeing strategies. More…