OHS formally enters professional sports 3

On November 9 2015, WorkSafe Victoria charged the Essendon Football Club with breaches of the occupational health and safety (OHS) law over its controversial supplements program. This blog has watched how the Australian Football League (AFL), in particular, has acknowledged its OHS obligations and duties.  This interest has been shared by Dr Eric Windholz who wrote about the charges today.

Windholz acknowledges that WorkSafe Victoria has established a formal presence in professional sports with its decision to prosecute.   More…

Is Australia’s OHS Body of Knowledge a dud? 1

An online version of Safety Science includes an article by Gunther Paul and Warwick Pearse who discuss “An international benchmark for the Australian OHS Body of Knowledge” (paywalled). Paul and Pearse have been critical of the emphasis given the OHS Body of Knowledge (OHS BoK) in the the accreditation processes of Australian OHS professionals and the accreditation of tertiary OHS courses.  In this article they benchmarked the OHS BoK against three other international bodies of knowledge and ranked it the lowest in quality, structure and content.

[This article can be read as a companion piece to an article published earlier today] More…

Accreditation research paper misses the mark 6

The discussion of Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) education and accreditation continues in the academic press.  A recent contribution is from Pam Pryor, Registrar of the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board (AOHSEAB) entitled “Accredited OHS professional education: A step change for OHS capability” (paywalled).  Pryor continues to make the case for the necessity of accreditation for university OHS courses but evidence seems to remain thin and an arbitrary differentiation between competence and capability is hard to understand outside of academic discourse. More…

Full time at union OHS representatives conference Reply

2015-10-27 HSR Conference brochureThe Health and Safety Representatives’ Conference, organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council as part of Victoria’s WorkSafe Week, was notable for the lack of politics. Previous conferences have often focussed on political campaigns such as Your Rights At Work but this was largely absent from the presentations.  There were some political questions from the floor but that was expected.

The conference had some particular highlights relevant to the broader Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) profession. More…

Half time at union OHS representatives conference 4

image1300 occupational health and safety representatives in one room provides a great deal of passion about workplace safety.  These are not the OHS suits, the regulators or the safety app spruikers that other conferences attract.

There is talk about safety leadership but few are thinking about the CEOs.  They see leadership in themselves. Indeed, it may be a major step forward for the OHS sector to start to separate OHS leaders from OHS leadership.  The room this morning had hundreds of OHS leaders. 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…

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.”


Workplace resilience gets a kicking 1

The Age newspaper has published a feature article entitled “Workplace resilience: It’s all a great big con“. Although it does not mention occupational health and safety (OHS) specifically, it is applying the OHS principle of addressing the causes of workplace injury and ill-health.  It says that workplace resilience and similar training courses and strategies:

“… can’t overcome the structural realities and power imbalances that characterise the employment relationship. “Workplace resilience” might help us bear up to stress, but it won’t solve its underlying causes. And the causes of workplace unhappiness don’t necessarily reside in the individual and their own ability to “be resilient” or “relax” – they are part of the economic structures within which we work.”


Muddled talk is not helping OHS 1

A short discussion* in Tasmania’s Parliament on 16 September 2015 is illustrative of the use of language to answer a question, just not necessarily the question asked.  This type of political language has existed for centuries and will continue to do so but it contributes to people’s confusion about occupational health and safety (OHS) and the regulators’ role in enforcing OHS laws and should be called to account.

The question was asked by Independent Kerry Finch to Attorney-General Dr Vanessa Goodwin.

“Is the Government concerned about the rundown in staff for the WorkSafe program? Is the Government aware that there are only a reported 19 field inspectors, when it requires between 27 and 30 for the program to work efficiently? Does the Government plan to recruit more field inspectors for WorkSafe?”


OHS is in sports but by another name 8

After writing a recent article about the relevance of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws to sporting clubs, I attended a sports medicine seminar to access a different perspective on workplace safety.

2015-09-21 18.43.15Having never played sports outside the obligatory high school activities, which in my high school also included snooker?!, the world of locker rooms and team sports is foreign.  But earlier this week I learnt that where OHS professionals talk about productivity, sportspeople speak of performance, and where factories address line speed, sports physicians talk of load management.  I also learnt that professional sportspeople are exempt from workers’ compensation. More…