First aid marketing campaign deserves analysis – again 1

The Age cover 22 October 2013St John Ambulance made a bold statement on the cover of The Age newspaper on 22 October 2013:

“87% of businesses are not FIRST AID READY.  This puts your employees, customers and business at risk.”

This statement repeats some of the inaccuracies that SafetyAtWorkBlog pointed out in March 2013. More…

Coronial findings into level crossing fatalities released Reply

Today the Victorian Coroner has released the findings into the 2007 Kerang rail disaster and other level crossing fatalities.  SafetyAtWorkBlog has written about issues related to level crossings those articles may help when reading the many media articles that the inquest findings will generate.

Already family members of the Kerang victims have expressed their dissatisfaction with the findings. More…

Measuring a safety culture 4

Defining safety culture is still a tricky proposition.  Definitions can vary from what Global Safety Index quotes:

‘the product of individual and group values, attitudes and beliefs, competencies and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation’s health and safety management’.

to the, arguably more functional, definition of

‘the way you work when nobody’s looking”.

Safety culture comprises a mix of personal values, corporate values, laws, norms, expectations, hopes, respect, dignity, care, amongst others. By assessing and linking these elements it should be possible to map or pictorialise a company’s safety culture.

Several years ago at a Comcare conference in Canberra, one speaker outlined leadership and safety culture of some sections of the public service in web, spider or radar graphs (example above).  The image stuck with me, particularly after additional sets of data allowed for animation to show the evolution of culture and leadership in relation to specific interventions.  The importance of being able to provide a visual image of safety culture should not be understated. More…

Working at Heights seminar video available 2

In early September 2013 I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on the issue of working at heights.  The “crisis summit” was reported on recently by Marian Macdonald.  The videos of this panel are now available through the WAHA YouTube channel and all the separate videos are worth viewing.  The video in which I first advocate for a focus on safety is embedded below.

The questions from the floor are included in the last video of the panel discussion.  If the issue of working at heights seems dry it is worth looking at the video from the 4.30 minute mark.  Several members of the audience take the Workcover NSW representative to task.

Kevin Jones

No code of practice for workplace bullying but hope remains 2

Ha01-037As the 1 January 2014 implementation date for new workplace bullying processes approaches there is an increasing amount of legal, HR, and safety seminars, and newsletters and alerts being produced.  Most reiterate the amendments to Australia’s Fair Work Act but occasionally there is additional information.

In a recent seminar, it was suggested that the draft Code of Practice for the Prevention and Management of Workplace Bullying, developed by Safe Work Australia, is to be released as a guidance note rather than a Code of Practice (see below).  More…

OHS as an industrial relations tool 3

Recently Queensland’s Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has been asserting that a review of union right-of-entry provisions is needed because unions have been using occupational health and safety (OHS) issues as an excuse for industrial relations (IR) action.  Such assertions have been made for decades in Australia to the extent they have become fact.  Below is an article looking at one of the sources of the Attorney-General’s assertions.

In a media statement dated 5 October 2013, Bleijie stated:

“For too long, we have seen construction unions using safety as an industrial weapon in this State… Quite frankly, their abuses of the current right of entry provisions are designed to bully contractors until they get their way. Sites are being hijacked and workers held to ransom.

“I have personally heard of stories from hard working Queenslanders who have been locked out of their workplace because of militant union activity.

“Earlier this year, a major contractor lost 42 days of work due to illegal strike activity in the first year of their enterprise agreement. This practice will end.”

Some of this statement was quoted in a Sunday Mail article on 6 October 2013 following the minister’s speech at an awards ceremony with the Master Builders. Like most political media statements there is a large amount of hyperbole but this article’s focus will be on the OHS elements of the statement.  More…

Hundreds plead with government to save lives while those to blame beg for scrutiny 9

The article below has been written by Marian Macdonald and is about an event that I recently attended in Sydney about fall protection.

When a plumber perched on the rooftop of a skyscraper clips a safety harness onto the point that anchors him to the building, there’s a one-in-three chance the anchor itself is unsafe. Remarkably, the installers being held to blame are pleading for greater scrutiny of their work from the regulator.

SummitAudienceThe Working At Heights Association (WAHA), which represents fall prevention equipment installers, today sent a call to action submission (not available online)  to the Heads Of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA). It follows an industry crisis summit held last month where, with a sea of upstretched hands, hundreds packed into a stifling conference room demanded urgent action from governments. More…

Engineering handbook progresses OHS management 3

Cover of Rail Good Practice Handbook UKMany safety professionals in Australia have become so familiar with the work of James Reason that they are looking for the next big thing.  There isn’t one but there are small things that build on Reason’s work and, importantly, that of other safety theorists (the non-cheese sector) to progress safety management

Recently a colleague drew my attention to a 2013 handbook on Engineering Safety Management.  It focuses on rail engineering but has a broader safety relevance.  Both volumes of the handbook are freely available HERE.

The text may seem a little stilted and some may be turned off by the engineering focus but there is much to like and the engineering focus will seem fresh to the OHS professionals.  There is an acknowledgement of the overlap in approaches between rail safety and OHS, an overlap that is increasing in Australia. More…

Australian research on OHS harmonisation’s progress, success and errors 3

The harmonisation of Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) laws has stagnated since the West Australian government’s tepid response to the strategy and Victoria’s belligerent and ill-founded rejection.  But some continue to examine the harmonisation process.  Eric Windholz is one of those researchers.

Windholz is a former executive of Victoria’s WorkSafe and is now  with the Monash Centre or Regulatory Studies and is writing his thesis on OHS harmonisation (to be available soon through the Monash Library).  Windholz acknowledges the political context of harmonisation, a context he describes as “contentious”.

The political maneuvering of various stakeholders in the harmonisation process deserves additional study.  The harmonisation, or even national uniformity, of safety has occurred over a similar period in Australia with other industry sectors, most noticeably in rail.  It is a strategy that was started by the conservative government of John Howard, embraced by the Australian Labor Party through its various prime ministerial incarnations and is now stagnant or even ignored. More…

Always look for the evidence on workplace bullying and make sure it’s local 3

Boss is BullyOn September 9 2013, the Canberra Times published an article by Bill Eddy, entitled “Bullying a practice for the whole workplace to solve“.  (The article has been tweeted and referenced several times in the past week in Australia.)  Bill Eddy is due in Australia soon to conduct a workshop on workplace bullying. The article has some sound advice on workplace bullying but what caught my attention was the opening line:

“Research indicates that workplace bullying has a more negative effect on employees than sexual harassment, perhaps because there are more procedures in place for dealing with sexual harassment.”

What research? More…