Ergonomics conference provides good, free knowledge 1

The 19thTriennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA 2015) is currently running in Melbourne Australia with 900 delegates, of which 600 are from outside Australia.  It offers a fascinating (online) library of ergonomic and occupational health and safety (OHS) research. Below is a sample of the research on offer picked, largely, at random.

It seems unnecessary to state that ergonomics is an essential part of the knowledge base of safety and production but ergonomics still seems to be a “dark art” to many.  This is acknowledged by many in the sector and is summarised well by Ruurd N. Pikaar 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…

Hackett bemoans fluffy OHS cost estimates Reply

The quest for accurate determination of the costs of poor occupational health and safety (OHS) has been a regular discussion point in this blog but the quest may be a never-ending one and ultimately pointless.

Recently the UK’s HSE Chairman, Judith Hackett took the Forum for Private Business (FPB) to task over estimates of OHS compliance costs.  FPB stated that

“The cost of compliance for the UK’s 1.2 million micro, small and medium sized businesses is £20 billion of actual costs and £41 billion if you include opportunity costs’.”

Hackett was unable to look at the claims as the FPB report was only for members.  This is a common marketing tactic where some information is released publicly in order to generate a demand which can be satisfied only with a membership or payment.  The downside of this tactic is that the carefully constructed statements become accepted as fact without allowing those facts to be independently verified. More…

PC report questions bullying processes 1

Cover of PC workplace-relations-draftAustralia’s Productivity Commission (PC) has released its draft report into the Workplace Relations Framework.  All morning talk radio has been discussion the issue of penalty rates but there are safety-related elements that should not be forgotten. Bullying is the most obvious of these.

The overview of the Draft Report hints that the level of resources required to administer the bullying provision in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) may be excessive given the tidal wave of applications did not eventuate. More…

Coronial findings and research – another step on the rocky road 7

cover of Final_Summary_Report4-QBPP_Test_Results_Concl_Recom_Jan-2015The final report into quadbike safety has finally been released by the University of New South Wales in a series of five papers and in the wake of Queensland coronial findings into nine quadbike-related deaths. (A New South Wales inquiry is currently underway)

It has been a rocky road to get to this report as a search of this blog will show but the recommendations are solid with many already being flagged by various safety regulators and others requiring much more consultation. The trick will be to accept the evidence and progress safety – not likely on the experience of the last four years. More…

Debate over OHS accreditation and professionalism remains messy 1

In May 2015, SafetyAtWorkBlog wrote an article about a research report that questioned the Safety Institute of Australia’s (SIA) push for certification of occupational health and safety(OHS) professionals and the accreditation of tertiary OHS courses. The article caused quite a stir and a lively dialogue. Pam Pryor of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board (AOHSEAB) provided a response to the research findings which did not seem to address, clearly, the points raised in the original article.  In a recent edition of the Journal of Health Safety and Environment, AOHSEAB’s Chair Emeritus Professor Mike Capra wrote a letter to the editor (not available online) to clarify and rebut.  The debate continues but does not necessarily progress. More…

Superannuation notices workplace safety Reply

Cover of ASCI Mental HealthLast week it was the Citi Safety Spotlight on ASX100, now it’s the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) with data on workplace safety and mental health of the S&P/ASX200.  The good news is the ACSI report is publicly available for download. The bad news is that the report is very limited. More…

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.

To read the full article, complete the contact form below stating “Please allow me access to the Citi blog article” and a password will be emailed to you, as soon as possible.



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.”