New book on pipeline safety has OHS lessons for all Reply

Hopkins Hayes Book CoverAny new book by Andrew Hopkins is a cause for excitement.  The latest book co-written with Associate Professor Jan Hayes* focusses, primarily, on two pipeline disasters in the United States but has sufficient information and thoughts for those OHS professionals outside this sector and jurisdiction.

Nightmare Pipeline Failures: Fantasy planning, black swans and integrity management” is a typically slim volume written in Plain English that benefits from the broad knowledge of its authors.  Readers of Hopkins’ early books will get all of the cross-references.  In some ways, this book can be seen as almost a case-study of Hopkins’ work on mindfulness and high-reliability organisation, as the themes of management perspectives, activity and decision-making occur repeatedly in this book. More…

Queensland’s workers’ compensation performance is “double plus good” 10

The Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, called a “snap” election for the end of January 2015. On 11 January 2015, Newman tweeted:

“Queenslanders injured at work are covered by Australia’s strongest workers’ compensation scheme.”

This is a further example of political newspeak as what does a “strong” workers’ compensation scheme look like? Newman’s tweet included an image that provides some clarity to his claim.

LNP WC Twitter graphic More…

FOI request for cost of introducing WHS laws fails again 5

Last year SafetyAtWorkBlog reported its failure at gaining the release of the Victorian Government’s full cost analysis of the introduction of the national Work Health and Safety laws.  In November 2014 the Victorian Government changed from conservative Liberal to traditionally more worker-friendly Labor Party.  So I submitted another request, with the same result, the report was

“…prepared for the purpose of submission for consideration by Cabinet in 2012…”

It seems we will have to wait another 28 years, apparently, to see the full estimated costs of Victoria introducing occupational health and safety laws that most other States have already introduced.  It is worth remembering that one State, South Australia, provided dramatically different cost estimates and the Productivity Commission estimated cost savings for some companies:

“…multi-state businesses are likely to see compliance costs fall and safety outcomes improve, generating total possible net cost savings of $480 million per year [under the new Work Health and Safety laws]” (Chapter 8, page 153)

The previous Liberal Government pledged never to introduce the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.  The new Labor Government failed to mention these laws in its 2014 election/policy platform so their intentions on WHS laws are unclear.  However, it is widely believed that Victoria has lost its claim to be at the leading edge of OHS/WHS legislation in this country.  If such status is important to the Labour Government, as it has been to the Australian Labor Party in the past, it is hard not to see it harmonising its OHS laws to those of the other States even if through quiet diplomacy rather than a noisy legislative change.

Kevin Jones

Political statements on OHS need to be tested 3

Today Australia’s Employment Minister, Senator Eric Abetz, released a statement concerning a change to the renewal of Comcare licences in the spirit of reducing business red tape but there are two mentions of workplace safety that are curious.

In the statement entitled “Comcare self-insurance licence change“, Senator Abetz has welcomed:

“…a reform that will see businesses save more than $1 million a year which can be reinvested in Work Health and Safety and jobs.”

and states

“This reform will reduce the regulatory burden, remove the cost of licence extensions in years two and four, and push back the costs of audit until year eight as well as ensure safer workplaces.”

The argument on reducing OHS red tape is that the cost savings can be reinvested into occupational health and safety measures but there seems to be no independent evidence to support this belief. More…

Media tips for Australian OHS professionals 1

The occupational health and safety (OHS) profession in Australia has suffered from the lack of a public voice.  This is partly due to ineffective and disorganised professional associations but more it is due to fear – fear of embarrassment, fear of ridicule, fear of failure….  This is peculiar because a fundamental element of OHS is communication.  Below is some information from an Australian journalism textbook that may help reduce some of that fear.

Code of Ethics

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (ie. the journalists’ “union” in Australia) publishes a Code of Ethics. (Similar organisations round the world have equivalent documents and obligations)  This is vital information for any journalist but also important for those who want to engage with the media, perhaps through interviews.  For instance, on the use of sources, the Code says

“Aim to attribute information to its source.  Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source.  Where confidences are accepted,  respect them in all circumstances.”

More…

Some are losing faith in the Victorian Workcover Authority 8

At a remembrance service in December 2014, the founder and outgoing deputy director of the Creative Ministries Network (CMN), John Bottomley, explained his refusal of funding from the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) for CMN’s work-related grief support services (now called GriefWork). VWA has a different take on his comments.

In discussing the relevance of the Book of Isaiah to the motivations of the CMN to help people, Bottomley said that

“… it is God’s response to injustice and suffering that has planted this same spirit at the heart of our endeavours to transform work-related harm.

So CMN rejected VWA’s contract in April this year, after WorkSafe had funded our agency for over ten years to provide grief support services. My reason for rejecting the new contract was that VWA wanted to hide bereaved families grief from the public domain of injustice at work. The contract brief treated grief as an individual psychological problem to be addressed behind the closed doors of a clinic shut off from the rest of society. The contract wanted to treat work-related grief like an illness, and treat grieving families as sick and lacking the ability to ‘cope’. This heaps injustice upon injustice.”

More…

A top OHS blog for 2014 13

I am very proud to receive recognition from LexisNexis again in 2014 for my work on the SafetyAtWorkBlog.  On 16 December 2014 LexisNexis Legal Newsroom Workers’ Compensation named the SafetyAtWorkBlog as one of the Top Blogs for Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Issues. It is a great honour for a blog that is self-funded and written in my spare time.

LexisNexis has described some of the articles as “insightful and entertaining” and reflective. One article in particular was a discussion spurred by the writings of Terry Reis and would not have been possible without his initial article.

I thank LexisNexis for this unexpected honour and feel very proud to be amongst the other honourees for 2014.  It is good to see new ones on the list and encourage all those OHS professionals who feel they have something to say, to say it.  The more voices the OHS profession has, the richer our debates and the greater our state of knowledge.

Kevin Jones

 

Sniping in social media raises issues about hydration 9

A spat has recently emerged on one of the safety discussion forums in Linkedin.  The catalyst was a statement that

The source of this data, not disclosed at the time of the original post, was a company that sells

“…a great tasting, scientifically proven mix of cutting-edge branch chain amino acids and low Gi carbohydrates for sustained energy release, combined with a formulated blend of electrolytes for optimum hydration in harsh Australian conditions”.

The discussion quickly refocused from the original safety concern to one of unreliability of statements; sadly the discussion also became personal and abusive. but the discussion raised two discussion points:

  • The reliability of statements on the internet, and
  • the issue of hydration and work performance.

More…

Bring on the safety storyteller 2

Cover of Casebook4-2One of the most effective ways of learning is by listening to or reading stories.  This has been an accepted truth since well before the printed word, even though modern training educators sometimes justify the importance of storytelling through pseudo-neurology-speak. It is the purpose of research to verify and question truths and to, hopefully, through this process to expand our knowledge and understanding but research into the telling of safety stories seems rare.

One recent article* of research (not freely available) into storytelling and the construction industry has been written by Jodith Leung and Patrick Fong of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and although it is not overtly about occupational health and safety (OHS), the high risk nature of construction makes safety inseparable from the stories.

More…