Workplace resilience gets a kicking Reply

The Age newspaper has published a feature article entitled “Workplace resilience: It’s all a great big con“. Although it does not mention occupational health and safety (OHS) specifically, it is applying the OHS principle of addressing the causes of workplace injury and ill-health.  It says that workplace resilience and similar training courses and strategies:

“… can’t overcome the structural realities and power imbalances that characterise the employment relationship. “Workplace resilience” might help us bear up to stress, but it won’t solve its underlying causes. And the causes of workplace unhappiness don’t necessarily reside in the individual and their own ability to “be resilient” or “relax” – they are part of the economic structures within which we work.”


Building a better future but maybe not a safer one Reply

Cover of ACTU Blueprint 2015The 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…

Inquiry into precarious/insecure work includes OHS Reply

2015 has been a big year for public attention on the exploitation of workers.  In May, the Four Corners program revealed the exploitation of, largely, migrant or illegal workers in the food processing and vegetable growing sectors.  In the last month, 7Eleven workers have featured, also after a Four Corners investigation in conjunction with Fairfax Media.  In both cases, workplace safety has been mentioned but not featured.

In September 2015, the Victorian (Labor) Government released the terms of reference (ToR) for its inquiry into labour hire and insecure work and occupational health and safety (OHS) gains a mention. The final report is due by July 2016. It is now up to the OHS profession and its advocates to emphasis OHS’ important role in the industrial relations of vulnerable workers. More…

FIFO mental health challenges the way we do business 4

cover of Final Report w signature for website(2)An article on the occupational health and safety (OHS) risks of Australia’s Fly In – Fly Out (FIFO) workers has been on this blog’s agenda for a long time but the final report into the mental health of FIFO workers released in June 2015 by the Western Australian government summarises many of the hazards. A close look at the recommendations illustrates many of the general problems of addressing mental health issues in workplaces. More…

Yoga and yoghurt – corporate wellbeing Reply

Professional organisations need to maintain personal contact between members and stakeholders even when social media allows for almost constant contact. Such events benefit from having thoughts challenged and recently one such event in Melbourne, Australia challenged its audience about psychological health and wellbeing.

A recent NSCA Foundation event heard from Andrew Douglas, one of the few workplace relations lawyers who can bridge the law and the real world.  He began by describing wellness or wellbeing in a fresh context.

“Wellbeing is that equilibrium that is achieved between challenge and resources.”

This perspective addresses business operations and personnel management as challenges – situations that arise that need controlling or managing.  This is a useful perspective as long as people feel up to the challenge and are not defeatist. More…

More care needed in discussing workplace mental health and mental illness 2

Writing about workplace mental health is a tricky task.  An article recently posted to Business News Western Australia shows how tricky it can be and how mental health can be misinterpreted as mental illness.

The headline, “Are you one of the 20% of workers that will experience a mental health issue?” clearly refers to workers but the first sentence of the article does not.  “Australian adults” are not all “workers”.

Out of the total population of around 24 million Australians, Wikipedia estimates the working-age population of Australia (15 – 64 years) at round 67% (16 million, approximately). If we apply these statistics to the headline, there are 3.2 million workers who “will experience a mental health issue”. But is this annually, over one’s working life or over a lifetime? The article does not say.

Not only are the statistics messy, so is the terminology. More…

Unfair expectations on the individual 1

Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a justifiably respected business publication but it often sells occupational health and safety (OHS) short.  A new HBR article, “Stress Is Your Brain Trying to Avoid Something“, is a case in point.

Too much of the contemporary approaches to psychosocial hazards at work focus on the individual without addressing the organisational.  This often compounds the struggles of individual workers and encourages managers to blame workers instead of analysing the organisational and cultural factors that lead to a hazard or incident. More…

5 experts in 60 minutes Reply

Host: ISCRR's Jason Thompson

Host: ISCRR’s Jason Thompson

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) has tried a new format for its occupational health and safety (OHS) seminars.  It is not a lunch with a single presenter and it is not a Three-Minute Thesis.  It is five safety researchers in one hour, seven minutes per person and a single question from the floor – and it worked. More…

Psychologically health workplaces 3

In some of his research into the operations of WorkSafe Victoria, OHSIntros provided this graph of workers compensation claims for psychosocial issues. Not only does it show the extent of the issue in recent years, it provides a clear historic starting point for the hazard –  a hazard that has created an industry of its own and that has complicated the management of workplace safety.

Pages from Paper 3 - 30th anniversary of Victorian OHS system 2015

OHSIntros comments on this increase by saying “the conventional rationale in OHS is that when you identify and focus on a risk, the claims flood in…” but significantly states that this logic remains untested. Occupational health and safety (OHS) seems to run on untested logic.

Clearly psychosocial issues in the workplace present a problem. OHSIntros writes that in 2013-14 psychosocial claims overtook manual handling on average cost amounts of A$88,000 to A$67,000, respectively (page 11)

Recently Dr Chris Stevens of Communicorp spoke about psychologically healthy workplaces at a seminar at Herbert Smith Freehills, showing one of the current approaches to this workplace hazard. More…

Penalty rates outweighs workplace bullying 2

The attention given to the recent draft report of the Productivity Commission’s (PC) inquiry into the Workplace Relations Framework has largely died down due to the dismissal of the report by Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.  The industrial relations (IR) elements of the report generally failed to fit the Government’s IR narrative but this did not stop the usual and, probably, pre-prepared media releases from the ideological opponents and supporters.  But did those media releases comment on the recommendations about workplace bullying? Almost entirely – No. So is workplace bullying a non-issue? More…