The High Risk OHS Summit 2012 (why it’s high risk, no one seems to know) started with a bang with a detailed presentation from Dame Carol Black, a major instigator of work health reforms in the United Kingdom. Dame Black was able to provide several case studies and some data that provided a fresh perspective on what work and health and safety means to the British workers. For instance, she stated that of those employed in the UK, 26% are working with a health condition or disability. Black also said that 2.4% are off sick at any one time
Black also adds the personal to her presentations and admitted that she had not been aware of what makes “a good job” until beginning her review over five years ago. It is a terrific question to ask one’s self and colleagues. What makes a good job?
David Gregory of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also spoke at the conference and, as usually, was very cautious in what he said and how he said it.
Gregory’s comments always need reflective consideration in order to identify alternate interpretations and different perspectives but the “highpoint” was his statement that ACCI members would prefer psychosocial hazards, such as bullying and fatigue, to be regulated through guidances rather than Codes, as compliance with Codes is more onerous than the flexibility offered by guidelines. He was taken to task by an ACCI Member in the conference audience who disagreed with this position. It showed that in all organisations it can be those with the loudest voice (or time to participate) who set the agenda.
Gregory also said that ACCI members have three major concerns with the new Work Health and Safety law reforms:
- personal responsibility in supply chains;
- OHS audits that do not progress safety at work; and
- Codes that misinterpret the new OHS laws and may introduce new OHS obligations.
This conference is presenting a fascinating OHS debate while also collating a variety of data and opinions. More is to come as the Australian Council of Trade Unions addresses the conference.