In November 2009, the Safety Institute of Australia published its first edition of its peer-reviewed journal. At the time it was described as a good start.
Also in 2009, another safety-related peer-reviewed journal was released and this one has avoided some of the SIA journal’s shortcomings…. in a way. For a small academic country this now makes three OHS journals. The International Journal of Social Security and Workers Compensation (IJSSWC) is published by Curtin University’s School of Business Law and is only available online.
According to the journal’s website the journal is:
“…edited by Professor Robert Guthrie, Professor in Workers Compensation and Workplace Laws, School of Business Law, Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia and Professor Marius Olivier, Director, International Institute for Social Law and Policy.”
Several years ago, Melbourne, Australia hosted an international conference on social security. That conference clearly illustrated the inter-relationship of work and social security, particularly in the fact that the majority of workers around the world work informally and therefore have little access to compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses. An injured worker in many countries will be looked after by relatives if social services are not available.
It is with this understanding that the new IJSSWC was eagerly anticipated. It looks like it will be rooted in the real world, as much as any academic journal can, rather than being an academic journal for the benefit of academics.
The articles in this first edition may set the scene for future editions but it must be noted that these five articles have been sourced through the 2008 International WorkCongress. It may find it difficult to obtain papers for future editions. The current issue contents are below with quotes from the journals editorial
The Challenge of Occupational Diseases in Developing Countries: Exemplary Observations and Good Practice Proposals from a Cycle of Seminars in Four Continents
Stefan Zimmer and Eva-Marie Höffer
“They observe that many diseases are under-reported owing mainly to legislative provisions which fail to recognise a range of occupational diseases which diminish incentives for reporting, inhibit development of diagnostic tools and result in poor collection of data and a failure to deal with worker health problems.”
Workplace Initiatives for the Management of HIV and AIDS: The Experience of Zimbabwe
“The case study of Zimbabwe is particularly pertinent given the high incidence of HIV and AIDS in that country and imperatives that drive the need for an innovative approach to the management of this workplace problem.”
“[the authors] assert that it is appropriate to apply an unusual stress and strain trigger test when considering whether a worker should be compensated for such an event. In jurisdictions where entitlement provisions make no specific reference to myocardial infarction or stroke this trigger test is worthy of consideration.”
“[the authors] address the issue of workplace stress in the Australian context, reflecting that sound corporate citizenship is a key element in controlling and managing this difficult workplace concern. Their paper provides lessons for other jurisdictions where workplace stress is an emerging concern.”
Protecting Dependants against the Effects of Occupational Hazards: Extended Damage in South African and Belgian Law
“[Prof. Millard] focuses on the issue of compensation for dependants consequent upon the death of a worker, noting that the South African legislation does not currently take account of the gratuitous services provided by family members in providing care to disabled workers.”
One of the challenges, as indicated above will be sourcing content although the breadth of the pool it is drawing from by combining workers compensation and social security should help it.
The production of an electronic journal fits well with evolution of online technical databases and libraries, the necessity to mininise production costs and to virtually eliminate the cost of distribution on the global scale. This is an option that the Safety Institute chose not to take. SafetyAtWorkBlog has advocated a return to hard copy publications but acknowledges the benefits of electronic publications in some disciplines.
Many major book publishers are applying print-on-demand (POD) for many of their low-volume sales and out-of-print titles. POD seems to fit the academic journal sector better than many over that titles.
One online feature that is not taken up by the new journal but that was applied during the publication of the SafetyATWORK magazine was the linking of references to online library sources or original online data, in a similar fashion to the links in this blog. Imagine having an online journal that not only provided footnotes but included the hyperlinks to the online reference so that the value of the original article could be verified and enhanced. Sure may of these journals are behind paywalls but increasingly they are not. And what if they are? Perhaps readers would purchase the paper or subscribe to the service?
As with the SIA journal the appearance of the IJSSWC should be a cause for optimism, here is a local journal with a global OHS perspective providing the type of evidence that the OHS profession and government are calling for as the basis for evidence-based decision-making.