Safety Leadership push in Queensland

Expect quite a few OHS statements coming from Australian politicians as the country approaches Safe Work Australia Week in late October 2009.

On 16 September 2009, the Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Cameron Dick, sought support for a

“…groundbreaking new program to reduce workplace deaths and injuries.”

Groundbreaking? Not sure. Perhaps for Queensland.

According to his media statement the “Zero Harm at Work ” program “aims to reduce the shocking number of deaths and injuries in Queensland workplaces.”  Dick goes on to say

“Ensuring safety in the workplace is one of the most important challenges facing industry in Queensland… Every year around 100 Queenslanders are killed at work and 30,000 people suffer serious injuries or work related diseases.  The cost to our State of these tragic deaths and injuries is more than $5 billion a year.  And worst of all, mums, dads, husbands, wives and children are left mourning the family member that never came home from work.”

Dick hits the right targets in the media statement but does safety leadership, particularly these types of programs, stop incidents from occurring in the workplaces?

Or is the effect of these programs to have senior executives feel that they are reducing injuries because they are talking about safety?

SafetyAtWorkBlog has long believed that safety awareness does not necessarily equal the reduction of workplace injury and illness.  “Zero Harm” cannot be achieved without financial cost and it is unclear whether industry is willing to invest the amount of money required to genuinely achieve this aim.

But then if “zero harm” is only a goal, an aspiration, then it doesn’t matter if it is not achieved “at least we tried”.  (Or the total cynic would say “at least the voters saw that we tried”)

There are sure to be more such statements and launches in the next six weeks.  SafetyAtWorkBlog will be looking for evidence not aspirations.

Kevin Jones

4 thoughts on “Safety Leadership push in Queensland”

  1. It also caught mt attention in the context of your post on the reporting of OSH issues, and the need to have an \’industrial context\’ to make them newsworthy. Just when does OSH becomme the focal point?

    How do we as a proffession \’influence\’?

    1. Greg

      The first step is to demand an increased performance from whichever OHS professional body you are a member of, if any.

      One of the reasons I started this blog is because no one outside of the unions was willing to talk about OHS. I would rather have had an authoritative professional organisation lobbying for OHS change but I am still waiting.

  2. I think this is a variant of putting your money where your mouth is. A recent example of the disconnect between safety retoric and \’window dressing\’ and public perceptions of corporate preformance is teh commentry following teh remuneration increase of BHPs CEO.

    I read with interest an article online today, discussing BHP Billiton’s CEO’s pay rise:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/16/2687443.htm?section=justin

    Two comments struck me.

    Firstly:

    \”I think it\’s horses for courses, so if you look at BHP over the past five years they\’ve out-performed other global mining companies by about three times, so their total share price and dividends have gone up by 220 per cent over the last five years whereas other peer bodies have gone up by roughly a third of that,\”

    And secondly, the comment attributed to Sharan Burrow:

    \”420,000 workers have lost jobs or have hours stripped away to them such that they now can\’t pay their bills, and yet we see the BHP CEO salary up by 51 per cent ….”

    No mention at all of the number of lives lost in BHP’s operations by either industry commentators or the Unions.

    1. Greg
      I read the same article and also thought of the workplace deaths. The article basically excused the pay rise by saying the share prices of the companies being compared had fallen. The BHP annual Report and CSR statement will be one to watch out for.

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