OHS and the politics of fear 2

Occupational health and safety (OHS) cannot exist outside social, economic and political contexts. Some OHS professionals try to convince themselves that OHS is a special case but to do so ignores the components of change that need to be addressed in order to improve workplace safety. There are parallels between OHS and contemporary political thought. More…

Sedentary work research features at ergonomics conference Reply

The current International Ergonomics Congress in Melbourne seems to be successful in a number of ways:

  • The size and variety of its program
  • The quality of its keynote speakers
  • Out of 900 delegates, 600 are from outside Australia.

Where it seemed to be less successful was in its profile outside of the ergonomics profession. The information available, some identified on other blog articles, has relevance well beyond ergonomics and it is disappointing that the conference was not marketed more to the general occupational health and safety (OHS) profession. (It should have been possible to exceed 1000 delegates just from local promotion.) The OHS profession needs livening up and have its body of knowledge expanded to areas that both support and challenge its own principles and processes.

Sedentary Work

A major thread in the Congress was the issue of sedentary work, something discussed by the first day’s keynote speaker, Professor David Dunstan, of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, who discussed research that found More…

Leadership or cowardice? 3

Few would argue against the need for occupational health and safety (OHS) regulation for high-risk work but many are arguing against OHS laws on the basis of low-risk workplaces. It seems logical that low risk work should not require laws but perhaps the traditional definition of OHS and risk is colouring our judgement. Perhaps some are making these arguments because they are afraid to change. Perhaps some of these leaders are, in fact, cowards.

New Zealand

There is discussion in New Zealand currently about exempting small “low-risk” businesses from some OHS obligations in the name of “red tape” but also on the understanding that small business seems to equal low risk.  (Similar discussions, or changes, have occurred in the UK, Australia and the US) 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 6

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…

Workplace bullying report lost in the political frenzy 1

Earlier this year Victorian MP and Minister for Small Business, Adem Somyurek, was accused of bullying his Chief of Staff, Dimity Paul.  This week, Somyurek resigned from his Cabinet position but not without a press conference in which he stated that the issue was political payback and that his resignation is no admission of guilt.

As you can see from this very brief summary, party politics has infested this instance of workplace bullying, and to such an extent that the important and solid investigation report into the incident is being missed.  The reports are publicly available and deserve to be carefully considered rather than relying on some of the current media coverage. 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…

Stanley’s story is powerful and unforgettable 2

Recently I was telling a colleague to temper their online video strategy and consider extracting the audio tracks from which a podcast strategy coud be developed. The advantage of podcasts is they can be listened to, be more portable, less distraction and, I think, can be more powerful. Earlier this week I listened to a Canadian podcast/documentary about the familial and social effects of a workplace death in the 1950s.

What can you tell me about Stanley?” is not a contrived plea for greater focus on workplace fatalities, as we often get from occupational health and safety regulators.  It is a snippet of family history, a painful and secret family history about the death of an uncle and a brother in a steel mill in the 1950s.  The  podcast looks at coronial records, company records, notes taken at the time by Stanley’s brother and shows that shame that many feel around workplace deaths now, existed then.

I listened to the podcast several days ago but I shiver now when I recall some of the pain and surprise that the family experienced.

“What Can You Tell Me About Stanley” can be listened to as a straight tale of a workplace death and the way such an incident was perceived in the 1950s.  But just as importantly, this should convince people of the power of simplicity in storytelling and social media.  The documentary obviously took months to put together and the revelations to the family are clearly not linear but this effort provides a fascinating 30 minutes for your attention.

Think of Stanley when you are applying your OHS skills.  You’ll be better for it.

Kevin Jones

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.

 

 

Enforceable Undertakings on OHS – Good and Bad 9

In 2010 Queensland’s former Attorney-General Cameron Dick said of enforceable undertakings that:

“Enforceable undertakings promote the introduction of long-lasting and more wide-ranging safety changes that would not have occurred under the prosecutorial system that imposes fines after the event.”

Enforceable Undertakings can be a powerful force for improving occupational health and safety (OHS) but they could also be used by employers to forestall investment in OHS and minimise the financial penalties should an incident occur.

More…