Citi’s Safety Spotlight report discussed 1

Recently a couple of media outlets referred to a report produced by Citi into workplace safety issues related to the top 100 companies on the Australian stock exchange.  The report, seen by SafetyAtWorkBlog, “Safety Spotlight: ASX100 Companies & More” (not available online), provides a useful insight to the ASX100 companies’ safety performance but Citi also undertook several thematic analyses which are curious but not always as helpful as expected.

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Blog in OHS small business research Reply

Cover of A Once in a Generation Opportunity_ Narratives about the PotentRecently a reader brought to our attention a research report from Edith Cowan University that used SafetyAtWorkBlog as an important source of occupational health and safety (OHS) dialogue. “A ‘Once in a Generation Opportunity’? Narratives about the Potential Impact of OHS Harmonisation on Smaller Firms in Australia” by Rowena Barrett, Susanne Bahn, and Susan Mayson, illustrates, amongst many things, that social media can be a useful source of information for OHS research.

The main article referred to in the paper is one concerning lawyer Andrew Douglas with most attention given to the comments.

Barrett, Bahn and Mason have continued to research how OHS is seen by the small business sector in Australia. A more recent (2013) paper, available online, is called “The unmet promise of occupational health and safety harmonisation: continued complexity for small, multi-jurisdictional firms“.

Kevin Jones

Trust, culture and productivity 2

In September 2015 Dr Matthew Hallowell will be speaking at the National Convention of the Safety Institute of Australia. Hallowell is a bit of an unknown to the Australian occupational health profession so SafetyAtWorkBlog posed a couple of questions to him as an introduction.

SAWB: Is it possible to establish trust and open communication in a company or industry sector, that has a fractious industrial relations relationship with trade unions?

MH: “This is a truly fundamental question to the industry that applies broadly to all project management functions, not just safety.

I think trust can be developed more easily in the context of safety (rather than productivity, for example) because safety involves altruism. I think trust is most dependent on the extent to which the various organizations on a project are willing, able, and encouraged to work together to solve a problem regardless of the contract structure.

In my opinion, integrated project delivery and design-build project delivery methods offer us a new opportunity to work together and build trust because there are more shared objectives and shared incentives.

The traditional lump-sum, design-bid-build contracting strategies with typical regulations around the world (e.g., OSHA that places safety responsibility solely on the contractors and subs), severely limits the opportunity to work together on any one goal.”

More…

Happiness with HILDA 1

Cover of HILDA statreport_2015The Age newspaper’s front cover for 15 July 2015 was dominated by an article about happiness.  The article is worth reading as it is built upon statistics from the long-term HILDA survey (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) that is used by many Australian researchers but, significantly, HILDA makes no reference to happiness.  Various elements in the article relate to the workplace and work activity generally but a couple are of direct relevance to occupational health and safety.

“4. Be a workaholic

Work-life balance is overrated, the survey suggests. In fact, the more people work the better their health is. Employees can work more than 51 hours in paid work and 81 hours of total work (that’s more than 11 hours a day) without any detrimental effect on their wellbeing, according to the report.”

More…

SWMS – the infectious safety weed 18

Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) professional, Paul Breslin, is continuing his research into the use and application of the Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) in the construction industry.  His latest paper, recently published in the Journal of Health, Safety and Environment (subscription only) asks an important question:

“If administrative controls are one of the lowest levels of control measures under the hierarchy of control, why has the Safe Work Method Statement become a central element in ensuring safety in the Australian construction industry?”

Breslin’s article title summarises the frustration of many OHS professionals where safety relies on lower order controls of the Hierarchy of Control, such as the administrative controls like SWMS. More…

Another $11billion mental health estimate Reply

Cover of beyondblue_workplaceroi_finalreport_may-2014After reading this morning’s article on mental health costings, a vigilant reader has suggested an alternative source for the $A11 billion cost figure.  It is also a report about which this blog raised serious questions when the report was released in May 2014. The “new” report seems to confirm the concerns in this morning’s article over needing to dig to find the original data sources of workplace hazards. More…

Inexactitudes could lead to OHS myths 2

Consulting firm Deloittes recently announced the merging of its occupational health and safety (OHS) and sustainability sectors in order to provide better customer services.  In the article Deloittes says about the importance of workplace mental health:

“Given that one in six working age Australians live with mental illness including depression, that is costing Australian businesses at least $11 billion dollars each year, this is a growing area“.

But the source of this statement is unclear and this lack of clarity may be contributing to some of the inexactitudes in the mental health/wellbeing debate. More…

Mental health missing from key OHS statistics Reply

Cover key-whs-stat-2015Part of the core duties of any occupational health and safety (OHS) regulator is the production of data. Recently Safe Work Australia (SWA) released its “Key Work Health and Safety Statistics” for 2015 and given the amount of media attention on workplace mental health, one would expect mental health to be one of the key statistics.  It’s not.

In fact mental health is referenced only once in the document on page 28.  The table states that for the decade of 2000-2001 to 2010-2011

“mental disorders…did not display a clear overall trend of increase or decrease”.

This is significant in the context of workplace mental health reporting.  Is the reported increase in workplace mental health a myth?  Safe Work Australia’s statistics seems to support this. More…

The exploitation of happiness 4

As the Australian Government analyses the productivity of the workplace it is vital that that analysis reflects the modern workplace and management practice. At the moment Australian workplaces are awash with training programs focusing on resilience and happiness, implying that each individual can change and improve a workplace culture but there has always been an undercurrent of manipulation to these courses and seminars.  A new book by William Davies provides a fresh perspective that, rightly, questions the motives behind this modern trend and provides an important historical context. (For those who can’t purchase the book but want to know more, look at this series of articles)

Davies’s book,  “The Happiness Industry – How the Government and Big Business Sold Us well-Being”“, is a big picture look at the economics and politics of happiness but has direct relevance to the workplace and occupational health and safety (OHS) as well-being and mental health has become increasingly influential in managing workers and their safety. Davies writes that since the 1990s: More…

An OHS conference split into monthly meetings 3

I am a Life Member of the Central Safety Group (CSG), a small network of OHS professionals who meet in central Melbourne each month. CSG seems to me to provide the best return on investment for professional development in my area and I’d like to recommend  membership, if you are local.

The Central Safety Group has operated for over 40 years, continues to meet monthly, providing access to important guest speakers, like those listed below, and to networking opportunities. More…