Duty of care needs a moral analysis

In my readings on Industrial Manslaughter, a reader recommended a book to help me understand how the world works.  I haven’t found the time to read it through because I get angry and/or depressed but I wanted to share a suggestion that may help clarify our occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations and provide a reconsideration of the employer’s duty of care.

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Flogging the banks could help safety

Australia’s Royal Commission into banking and financial services is a few months in and the evidence provided of wrongdoing is so substantial that those who were critical of the need for such an investigation are admitting they were wrong.

SafetyAtWorkBlog is applying the logic that occupational health and safety (OHS) succeeds best when it is part of the organisational culture.  Australia has often held its banking and financial services as “world-class” and many of that industry sector’s leaders have been prominent in speaking about the importance of leadership and corporate morality.

The financial and banking industry’s credibility and authority in Australia is gone and the OHS profession can learn much from this failure, even when the failure is in its early stages of exposure.

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“Just Culture – The Movie” – important case study

I was born outside Liverpool England well over 50 years ago and have lived on the other side of the world ever since.  I love hearing accents from Northern England as it reminds me of my relatives, my roots and, most of all, my Mother.  This meant that I had to watch Sidney Dekker‘s latest 30 minute documentary at least twice so that I paid attention to what was said rather than how.

“Just Culture – The Movie” (accessible through the YouTube share below) tells the story of the transformation from a divisive and unproductive blame culture to a just culture.  It is an important story because it is theory, concept and idea made real, and made real in an industry sector that has a complex organisational culture only partly explained by its funding model.

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Early WHS submissions are a mixed bag

The first lot of anonymous submissions to Australia’s Independent Review of Work Health and Safety Laws is an interesting mix.

One seems written by a regional paramedic calling for increased prescription of workplace first aid requirements. There are complaints about the contents of first aid kits which should have been addressed by the occupational health and safety (OHS) option of providing equipment to meet the results of a first aid needs analysis about which the submitter says:

“The recommendation to add additional items based on an appropriate risk assessment is almost, to my knowledge, never completed.”

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Danger Money has been internalised

Late last century I worked in the Victorian Department of Labour as an administrative officer, at a time when award restructuring and “structural efficiency principles” were in full swing.  The existing awards often included a swathe of special allowances for activities like working at heights or picking up roadkill.  These allowances were commonly called “dirt money” or “danger money” and were largely eliminated or incorporated in the base rates of pay through the restructuring of awards.

The concept of “danger money” has disappeared from the formal industrial relations (IR) processes in Australia but is an important one to remember in the context of occupational health and safety (OHS), particularly as there are renewed calls for IR reforms in Australia.

Workers continue to accept high risk activities in response to higher rates of remuneration, as was recently discussed in another SafetyAtWorkBlog article.  Below is one take on “danger money”and the OHS attitudes of trade unions

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