ICAP Congress of Applied Psychology is a neglected OHS resource

In July 2010, Melbourne Australia is hosting the 2010 conference of the International Congress of Applied Psychology.  What was an OHS consultant at this conference?  The question should be why wasn’t OHS consultants at this conference?

This conference is not about workplace safety, per se.  It is about how people think and communicate.  It provides research (some would say evidence), often about how people relate to each other at work.  The exciting content of this ICAP Conference makes the Safety In Action Conference look like a history lesson.

The conference has made the full program and the speaker abstracts online, for free.  Both are big PDF files but are excellent resources for those OHS professionals looking for the latest research into bullying, driver safety, health & wellbeing, organisational behaviour, leadership, fatigue, stress and other issues.

The safety-related speakers include topics like this random sample:

  • Reappraising the transactional model of driver stress and fatigue
  • Driver behaviour theory: ninety years of psychological space in traffic
  • Emotional intelligence: From research to application
  • Psychological responses to disasters: An empirically informed approach to helping the survivors of trauma effectively and safely, in the field and in the clinic
  • Fatigue and performance effects: What do we know and what do we need to know?
  • How organizations create stress and respond to the consequences of stress
  • Development of a psychological risk assessment tool to aid compliance with health and safety legislation: The People at Work Project
  • The role of health and well-being in safety performance

The accompanying trade show was populated by a lot of academic bookshops but the conference discounts were bargains.  Of the three books purchased, the most fascinating is “Insidious Workplace Behaviour” by Jerald Greenberg.  In providing the definition of IWB as the book calls it, the author lists five characteristics:

  • Intentionally harmful
  • Legal
  • Low-level severity
  • Repetitive
  • Individually and organisationally targeted

IWB is “subtle and stealthy behavior that cumulatively chips away at a worker’s dignity” (p.4)  This concept deserves enormous attention and may provide a new approach to the early signs, the clues to a toxic workplace.

A fascinating conference feature was the Brief Oral Presentations where speakers have a set 12 minute period to present research findings and answer audience questions.  In Melbourne this occurred in a large room of around 6 booths that fitted around 20 people each.  It is a type of “speed-researching” where one can go from concept to concept and allows the conference to offer hundreds of different speakers and, more importantly, different perspectives and evidence.  It was like dipping into the heads of thinkers from around the world.  It also put Australian safety conferences to shame.

Over ten years ago at an international HIV conference in Melbourne, students stood in front of posters tacked to furry partition walls.  Now those posters were PowerPoint available for viewing on a bank of PCs.  Less personal perhaps but worth a try.

The ICAP Conference runs for almost an entire week and is a terrific resource for OHS consultants, professionals and researchers.

Kevin Jones

Disclaimer: Kevin Jones was provided with a media pass to this conference

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