SafetyAtWorkBlog, Standards and advertising

This weekend in a SafetyAtWorkBlog comment, Simon Berglund posted a commercial link to an Australian Standard on the installation of insulation.  In his comment he did not reveal his commercial interest in posting the comment and I apologise for allowing it to be posted.

Simon Berglund  is the “Director, Sales & Marketing – Information Services (Asia Pacific) at SAI Global” and I was not aware of this before approving his comment.  His comment has now been deleted.

SafetyAtWorkBlog believes it is important to apply the appropriate standards to any workplace task and it may be the case that the Australian Standard Berglund linked to (AS 3999-1992) is the right document.  But the action illustrates several major obstacles in the practical application of OHS in Australia:

Australian Standards that relate to safe work practices should be free.  If not to all companies, at least to the small business sector – the sector most in need of OHS advice.

Australian Standards are only guidelines (unless “empowered” by reference in legislation) and need to be seen as such.  If Australian Standards are seen as OHS gospel then we have a compliance culture and not necessarily a safety culture.

The Standard referred (AS 3999-1992) to is over 18 years old. Maintaining a currency of OHS standards is a major problem for Standards Australia and they will never catchup to the extent required. A new way of establishing safe work standards needs to be developed.

Lastly, SafetyAtWorkBlog has a philosophy or avoiding linking to safety documents that are not freely available.  Readers are encouraged to search on the internet for any alternative OHS documents that are more current and more freely available.  Or there may be a library or other information resource that can be called upon for a similar level of OHS information.

In the case of insulation installation there are several documents that have been released by the Queensland Government, or with its support, on the OHS issues associated with installing insulation.  It is strongly recommended that you consider this link to the Electrical Safety Office as a start before paying out for a document that is only a guideline, is over 10 years old and costs around $A60 upfront.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories advertising, government, guidance, OHS, safety, safety culture, UncategorizedTags , ,

4 thoughts on “SafetyAtWorkBlog, Standards and advertising”

  1. As an interesting sidelight to this discussion re maintenance of Standards, I recently discovered that the nationally-recognised standard for confined space entry is AS2865-1995. The Australian Standard has been through at least 2 revisions since but NOHSC / ASCC / Safe Work Australia hasn\’t managed to bring itself into line. So it\’s not always the Standards writers who are at fault. It would be an interesting conundrum for the Courts if there was a confined space incident and the employer claimed it had followed one Standard or t\’other.

    See http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/swa/HealthSafety/HazardsSafetyIssues/ConfinedSpaces/

  2. Kevin

    Good luck with the elections this weekend.

    OHS regulators have always struggled with improving safety in small businesses and the cost of Australian Standards is a small part of the problem. I know that small business will always look to the free government OHS information or the cheap OHS consultants first. Government concerns on the quality of advice being provided by consultants can be addressed by making more OHS information freely available to the small business sector.

    The workers\’ compensatiojn sector has similar problems with small business understanding their roles, rights and obligations.

    Although changes in regualtion deter companies from publishing advice in these areas, the harmonisation of OHS and, soon, workers\’ compensation in Australia must surely make the time right for the Australia edition of \”Workplace Safety for Dummies\” and \”The Idiot\’s Guide to Workers\’ Compensation\”?

  3. Standards \”empowered\” by legislation should be freely available. It is for the relevant Governments and SAI Global (or any other Standard developer, for that matter) to work out commercial arrangements in these cases. What about a heat stress Code of Practice for South Australia? Or a regulation? While it is up to employers to meet their duty of care, a little guidance and information on how to do it does not go astray.

    Thanks Rosemary for your talk on Sunday to our small but enthusiastic group. Hopefully we can achieve some change to the shameful way our government treats injured workers in this State. Personally, I favour a shift to a national scheme; however as with any scheme, whichever government administers it, it needs to be fair and guarantee workers rights to fair compensation; and recourse to the common law in serious cases where negligence can clearly be shown; and a rigorous enforcement regime.

  4. Kevin the last thing you need to be is sorry for allowing a posting that implies a direction whilst hiding another motive. If any one needs to stand and ask for forgives for the misrepresentation it is Simon Berglund.
    There really is no way you can know just who every person who comments is.

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