New workplace bullying report raises awareness in UK 1

imageRecently workplace bullying gained increased attention in the United Kingdom due to media report about a discussion paper released by Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

The report called “Seeking better solutions: tackling bullying and ill-treatment in Britain’s workplaces” is a very good summary of thinking on workplace bullying that acknowledges the Australian experience but seems to indicate that Britain remains in the early stages of tacking the workplace bullying situation after a series of false starts on the issue.

SafetyAtWorkBlog posed some questions about this paper to Dr Shainaz Firfiray, Assistant Professor of Organisation & HRM at Warwick Business School and an expert on social identity, work-life balance and ethics.  Her responses are below but before that it is useful to note the key messages of the discussion paper: More…

Bridging Health and Safety, a matter of urgency as well as good business sense? Reply

Susan Fleming, Managing Director of Acting Consulting Training Australia attended a breakfast seminar on November 10 2015 and has provided this guest post .

“We have been shouting about safety for some time and in contrast whispering about well-being and health in the workplace. We need to address this as a matter of urgency”

Perth breakfast seminar 101115Judith Hackitt, Chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive addressed the issue of University of Western Australia Centre For Safety (UWA Centre for Safety) breakfast on 10 November 2015.

In a prudent and well-programmed session, the UWA Centre for Safety inspired good debate about the business impact the well-being of employees is having on the workplace. More…

EU provides clues for improving safety management Reply

Cover of ef1551enThe European Union conducts research into occupational health and safety that, although there may be cultural and legislative differences, deserves attention from outside that geographical region.  Recently EuroFound released its annual review for 2014.  There are a couple of research projects that deserve consideration, particularly return-on-investment in construction safety, violence at work, psychosocial issues and precarious work risks. More…

OHS and the Trans-Pacific Partnership 2

Cover of TPP Text 061115Several weeks ago I was asked by a trade unionist to make a submission to the Australian Government explaining how the impending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be bad for worker safety.  I acknowledged concerns over labour relations but pointed out that no matter who is working in an Australian workplace, their safety must be managed.  Whether they are a migrant worker of full-time employee was not relevant to the management of their occupational health and safety (OHS).  The trade unionist was disappointed.

Now the full text of the TPP has been released it is possible to look for any direct OHS impacts of the agreement. More…

OHS ROI pilot research in Queensland Reply

Work Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) recently revealed some early research into the Return on Investment (ROI) of occupational health and safety (OHS) controls. (Thanks to a reader for pointing it out) According to its website:

“Recent pilot research in several Queensland  organisations found clear evidence of the cost effectiveness of safety interventions, including:

  • an automatic shrink wrapping machine at Rexel’s Tingalpa distribution centre that had an ROI of around $1.82 for every $1 of costs, and a payback of upfront costs of less than three years
  • an ergonomics intervention at BP Wild Bean Cafés with an ROI of $2.74 for every $1 of costs and a payback within the first month
  • a workplace health and wellbeing program at Port of Brisbane that had an ROI of $1.58 for every $1 of costs and a payback of 15 months.”

None of this “pilot research” is publicly available so it is not possible to verify the data. (WHSQ has been contacted for further information for a follow up blog article)   More…

Another mental health player joins the discussion 3

Pages from EY Putting our minds to it - Addressing mental health-2Recently, Ernst Young released a discussion paper about the risks of mental health in the workplace.

Mental health is a very popular topic at the moment and there are thousands of service providers in this sector. During the recent National Mental Health Week, statistics on the costs associated with mental health provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) seemed to be the only figures referenced.  Ernst Young (EY) has taken a different approach.  Rather than trying to develop its own cost estimate, it has looked to the existing data.  It is particularly good that Australia’s Workplace Barometer is referenced. More…

Inspectors and Health and Wellbeing Advisers 2

On 30 September 2015, SafetyAtWorkBlog highlighted a conversation about inspector numbers from the Tasmanian Parliament.  The information was confusing but crucial in understanding WorkSafe Tasmania’s occupational health and safety enforcement capacity and strategy.

Below are some questions posed to WorkSafe Tasmania in an attempt to clarify the issues and the OHS regulator’s replies. Two responses prompted comment on workplace health and wellbeing strategies. More…

Psychology of aggression and risk control Reply

Recently an Australian law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills, conducted a series of seminars that provided a different perspective on issues related to workplace mental health and safety.  Dr Lisa Warren of Code Black Threat Management explained her typology of aggressive personalities that can exist in Australian workplaces and defined the psychological profiles of aggressors, stalkers and others.  A discussion of occupational violence from the “traditional” occupational health and safety (OHS) context shows how Dr Warren’s research may help address the potential harm presented by “badly behaved people”. More…

Drug and alcohol testing does not improve workplace safety, so why have it? 3

cover of EN455_NCETA_2011-2 Testing for drug and alcohol effects in workplaces sounds sensible but what do you do when there is no evidence that it improves worker safety or reduces risk? Apparently ignore the evidence, create industrial tension and impose unnecessary costs on industry.

The Australian national government and the Victorian (State) government have both pledged to introduce drug and alcohol testing for the construction sector.  The Victorian Government also promised to introduce drug and alcohol testing for parliamentarians but everyone expects a backdown on that election pledge.

Recently two researchers in Adelaide, Ken Pidd and Anne Roche published a research paper in Accident Analysis & Prevention asking “how effective is drug testing as a workplace safety strategy?“.  The abstract states:

“…the evidence base for the effectiveness of testing in improving workplace safety is at best tenuous.”


Applying a “bullshit filter” during Mental Health Week 8

Cover of MCA_Mental_Health_Blueprint_FINALThis week in Australia is Mental Health Week.  Some call it an Mental Health Awareness Week.  Either way the Australian media will be full of experts and “experts”.  Workplace health strategies will not be excluded but when reading and listening to this media content, one important point should be remembered – “mental health” is significantly different from “mental illness”.

Such differentiation should not be dismissed as semantics because health, illness, problems and disorders involve different levels of analysis and diagnosis and, therefore, different strategies, interventions and control measures.

Recently the Minerals Council of Australia released its mental health blueprint in which the following important definitions were prominent. More…