Don’t get sidetracked by depression marketing 2

Over the last couple of months, SafetyAtWorkBlog has written several articles on the psychosocial workplace hazard of depression, stress and anxiety.

Science Friday is a regular feature of the NPR  program, Talk of the Nation in the United States.  Last Friday, it focussed on depression.  Its speakers talked about how the diagnosis of depression has changed over the decades, sometimes to match the range of depression medications available.

Importantly there is a differentiation between depression and mental health. (Psychosocial disorders doesn’t seem to be a term used outside of OHS)  Depression is slowly becoming the collective term for sad, melancholy, unhappy, miserable, anxious……….  It is very important for workplace safety professionals to try to pierce the fug of depression marketing so that one is not distracted into the trap of treating workers for a personal problem rather than preventing the hazard through changing organisational attitudes. More…

Okay, I don’t smell but am I safe? 2

King Gee recently released a range of work clothing that is manufactured using a technique that reduces the wearer’s body odour.   A sample was sent to SafetyAtWorkBlog unrequested.   For those tradespeople with a body odour issue, the clothing may be a godsend, maybe more so for the people they have to work with.   The new clothing has received at least one media mention.

The issue that has stopped me from wearing the sample shirt is that the “odour-killing” properties are due to a process of:

“…. engineering molecules at the nanoscale …[that] transforms the very fibers of the fabric to provide unsurpassed odour elimination.”

Nanotechnology is a recent technology that is being applied widely but without a detailed consideration of the possible health effects to the user, the environment and to those who manufacture nano-materials. More…

Internet addiction in the workplace 3

If the prevention of depression is better than trying to treat it, how should a safety manager proceed when permissible work practices may be contributing to mental health problems in some workers?

A new UK study announced today says “that excessive internet use is associated with depression”.  The researchers say that

“…some users have developed a compulsive internet habit, whereby they replace real-life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites.  The results suggest that this type of addictive surfing can have a serious impact on mental health.” More…

Dipping into workplace violence 1

Jeff Sparrow recently gained considerable media attention with his book that reflected on violence in society.  Yossi Berger once described occupational health and safety as a “kind of violence” in his book of that title.  There is a lot of research  into occupational violence, much of it from the United States which, to some extent, has an unrepresentative view of this hazard.

An interesting, and brief, discussion on the matter is a chapter in the book “Perspectives on Violent and Violent Death” published by Baywood Publishing.  The existential perspective of one particular chapter may make it impractical for safety management purposes but as a background article for provoking thought, it is very good.

Without this chapter I would not have found the work of C E Newhill* into client violence in social work or that of C L Charles.  Charles identified some factors that have contributed to the “anger epidemic” which may provide some clues on understanding occupational violence.   These are listed below:

  • Compressed time
  • Communication overload
  • Disconnectedness More…

Does OHS training work? 6

Businesses thrive on the concept of return on investment (ROI) but it has been very hard to apply this to training in workplace safety and SafetyatWorkBlog can only provide clues to this relationship.

Training is an important component in any company’s safety management program but it will not solve all OHS ills, regardless of  the claims of some training providers.  Specific training to achieve licences is one type of training where skills become directly practical but other training, such as First Aid, Health & Safety Representative (HSR) training or general OHS training, is more difficult to quantify. More…

Dignity At Work, different UK and Australian approaches 2

On 26 January 2010, a fascinating document was released from England concerning  workplace harassment and violence.  This builds on earlier work in Europe and has led to the joint guidance on “Preventing Workplace Harassment and Violence“.

The guidance has the demonstrated support of employer, employee and government representatives who have committed to

“…ensuring that the risks of encountering harassment and violence whilst at work are assessed, prevented or controlled.”

Significantly they also state

“We will implement our agreement and review its operation.”


Business assessment of OHS 6

Australia’s Productivity Commission released its draft report into Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Occupational Health and Safety on 27 January 2010.  The 432-page report will take some time to read and digest but below are the general key points of the report

  • “This study compares inter-jurisdictional differences in occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation in 2008-09 and its administration and enforcement and the costs they imposed on business. Such benchmarking provides information which can support current moves to establish a consistent regulatory approach to OHS across all jurisdictions.
  • Generally, OHS performance has been improving. National injury incidence rates have fallen almost 20 per cent between 2002-03 and 2007-08. More…

Stress management may be only a chocolate cake away Reply

Safety professionals often struggle to manage stress in their employees and themselves but new research has found links between the consumption of chocolate and a reduction in stress.

The study in the Journal of Proteome Research entitled “Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects” More…

Prevention of depression is better than treatment 3

Depression as an occupational illness is one of the most difficult hazards faced by managers and safety professionals.  Depression is hard to understand and it is often difficult to recognise an employee who suffers from the condition, let alone, figuring out how the workplace may contribute to the illness.

[Mental health issues are going to receive increased attention in Australia following the naming of the Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry.]

A recent article in Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine reports on a study that looked at “the relationship between antidepressant treatment and productivity costs”. More…

Survey shows continuing increase in mobile phone use while driving Reply

The use of a mobile phone while driving can be very dangerous for other vehicles, pedestrians and drivers themselves.  New communications technology has been devised to accommodate the less-new technology of mobile phones but in itself hands-free technologies are masking the risk.

Although this hazard is across the driving community, there is particular relevance for workplace drivers as their status complicates the arguments against talking or texting while driving and provides additional control measures. More…