Unfair expectations on the individual 1

Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a justifiably respected business publication but it often sells occupational health and safety (OHS) short.  A new HBR article, “Stress Is Your Brain Trying to Avoid Something“, is a case in point.

Too much of the contemporary approaches to psychosocial hazards at work focus on the individual without addressing the organisational.  This often compounds the struggles of individual workers and encourages managers to blame workers instead of analysing the organisational and cultural factors that lead to a hazard or incident. More…

5 experts in 60 minutes Reply

Host: ISCRR's Jason Thompson

Host: ISCRR’s Jason Thompson

The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) has tried a new format for its occupational health and safety (OHS) seminars.  It is not a lunch with a single presenter and it is not a Three-Minute Thesis.  It is five safety researchers in one hour, seven minutes per person and a single question from the floor – and it worked. More…

Analysing safety leadership can be distracting 2

Any blog about occupational health and safety (OHS) will write repeatedly about leadership.  Safe Work Australia advocates leadership as beneficial to OHS:

“When leaders make sure all business risks, including work health and safety, are effectively managed, and continually monitor and review all areas of their business’ performance, they will be open to opportunities for innovation, and alert to emerging hazards.”

But leadership requires someone to apply it and often, in the OHS sphere, people wait for others to show leadership rather than seeing their own potential. 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…

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…

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…

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…

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…