Professor Niki Ellis hits out at the state of OHS in Australia

“…OHS is not fit for the 21st century.  It is isolated, has a limited academic base and remit, uneven provision, lack of good quality data, a poor image and is perceived by many as the servant of the employer.”

Professor Niki Ellis speaks frankly about the OHS discipline in Australia.

Professor Niki Ellis recently was appointed the CEO of the Institute of Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) after some time in the United Kingdom and a short period as the acting chair of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.  Prof Ellis provided a refreshing and confronting presentation to the 2009 Comcare Conference (pictured right) that SafetyAtWorkBlog attended.

On 28 April 2010, Prof Ellis has given it to the Australian safety profession with both barrels.  According to an ISCRR/Safety Institute media statement:

“…Professor Niki Ellis, CEO of the Institute of Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research , agrees that occupational health and safety will have to change. Referencing recent views expressed by Dame Carol Black during the World Congress of Internal Medicine last month said as a discipline, OHS is not fit for the 21st century.  It is isolated, has a limited academic base and remit, uneven provision, lack of good quality data, a poor image and is perceived by many as the servant of the employer.” (link added)

This is an extraordinary claim and one that many of the safety associations in Australia should take to heart, particularly those that have existed for decades and are still to establish any traction with the community or the OHS regulators.

To have an organisation with a, hopefully, solid financial base from which proper (ie. non-marketing) research can be undertaken is a big step forward.

Professor Ellis was a strong advocate of the Dame Carol Black approach to OHS when she spoke at the Comcare conference.  There is the possibility for big progress in OHS through the ISCRR as it has none of the professional association or university baggage that has impeded change in other OHS bodies.

Kevin Jones

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