The decline of newspapers and other mainstream media is well-established (an excellent recent analysis of this has been undertaken by Ross Gittins), as is the increase in the influence of online or digital media. The information sources for occupational health and safety (OHS) have undergone a similar change, often due to the same technological and economic factors affecting the mainstream. But OHS has ALWAYS been a niche issue in communications and the media and it will continue to be so except that the niche can increase in size and the new media technologies could increase OHS’ influence in managerial and business decision processes, if someone accepts the challenge.
It is important to look at a major fault in communication strategies related to OHS. The mainstream media never covered workplace safety issues to the extent possible. OHS was almost always covered by the industrial relations reporter, if the newspaper had one. The tripartite nature of industrial relations (IR) negotiations – government, business, unions – provided the main sources for OHS content and OHS was always communicated in or with the IR context. Rarely was OHS seen to merit its own story.