An example of how safety can be misperceived as expensive

Today I received an email that had the intriguing heading of:

“Do you fully understand what the harmonisation laws mean to your organisation?”

As I don’t “fully understand” harmonisation and spammers don’t usually use OHS as a spam tool, I opened the email.  It was a promotion for an upcoming conference called Supply Chain and Logistics Safety 2012.  The harmonisation of Australia’s OHS was not in the title but was mentioned in the email body.

“Although some states appear to be delaying their timeline for harmonisation implementation, businesses in reality can’t afford to wait. You will not only need to meet the regulation, but devise strategies to prevent your bottom line being impacted.”

No one wants an impacted bottom line (there’s a cream for that) and my unease increased by the writer implying that the two major issues of OHS harmonisation was to comply – “to meet the regulation” – and to protect profits.  There was no mention about increasing the safety of workers, but that should not be surprising as the major feeling towards harmonisation is that there are many priorities in the process before reducing anything other than financial harm.

I downloaded the conference program to see the extent of discussion of harmonisation.  Three day conference, one speaker on the topic.  Two day conference, $A1,600 per day (no one day option).

The conference may be worth attending if one is to look after the safety needs of workers and business in supply chain logistics but the email distributed by Craig Steward of IQPC implies a relevance in one area of safety management that is not supported by the conference program.

Over the last few months I have attended several free OHS harmonisation seminars that have run much longer that the half-hour presentation on the issue that IQPC is providing for $A3,300.  Several labour law firms have run breakfast or evening seminars (the sausage rolls at Norton Rose are particularly good).  Several firms have produced a series of seminars.  Various safety groups have run multiple meetings on the issue over many years at minimal charge.  WorkSafe Victoria only last week held a two-hour seminar on harmonisation for no charge to participants.

It is acknowledged that IQPC is a for-profit company that operates numerable conferences each year but, up until now, it has not used one 30 minute presentation as a marketing theme for a whole conference.  The email, widely distributed, to previous IQPC conference attendees is a serious miscalculation by the company and does little to deal with the perception that safety is expensive.

There are many options available for authoritative information on OHS harmonisation at little or no cost.  You could be wasting your safety budget on one event when the money could be used to directly improve safety in your own workplace more effectively.

Kevin Jones

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