Australia’s Safe Work Month launched

The CEO of Safe Work Australia, Michelle Baxter, has launched National Safe Work Month in a video address this morning. This speech is the first of many online Virtual Safety Seminars for 2015. The seminar program is much expanded since last year’s inaugural attempt and a recent discussion on this program’s development is available here. The videos will be good additions to the Australian body of knowledge on workplace safety.

This video illustrates some of the challenges in producing videos and webinars. The lack of commonly used acronyms for workplace safety  such as OHS or WHS can disturb the vocal flow by requiring formal and clear speech. The use of an autocue or teleprompter is also a skill that requires practice, as UK politician Jeremy Corbyn has recently acknowledged.


The lack of acronyms is understandable.  Australia is operating under two different terminologies for workplace health and safety – the traditional OHS (occupational health and safety) and the recent  WHS (work health and safety).  It is not possible to use both in the same sentence and choosing one over the other can generate unnecessary pedantic tweets and emails, as this blog has received about its preference for OHS over WHS.

The effect of speaking about workplace safety without acronyms and jargon can make the words seem formal and forced because the delivery is less natural and comfortable.  It would be far simpler to use the collective term of “workplace safety” whilst acknowledging that health is part of workplace safety.  Lobbyists have long argued for putting the “H back in OHS” but this campaign shows an ignorance that health has always been included in the laws, just ignored.

Rather than a terminological campaign, research into why health was ignored for several decades after the OHS laws were introduced would be far more useful in developing a strategy for redressing the policy imbalance.


The autocue is almost impossible to ignore nowadays particularly when producing this type of video and when this type of experience is usually only once or twice a year, it is difficult to become proficient.  However, in many ways, a “natural” delivery is preferred to some of the slick presentations about OHS that are often seen at conferences or in other YouTube promotions.  Some of these safety video presentations can become too slick and wash way the sincerity.

The Virtual Safety Seminars are a useful addition to the OHS/WHS body of knowledge and are set to expand on the elements of the current National OHS Strategy.  Some presentations will be polished, others raw but all, particularly the live events, worthwhile.

Kevin Jones

Categories advertising, campaign, communication, education, government, media, OHS, safety, SafeWork

One thought on “Australia’s Safe Work Month launched”

  1. I use OHS over WHS as that’s what most people I deal with still think of it as being. They aren’t robots that can be reprogrammed overnight.

    But to simplify it even more I refer to it as ‘health and safety’ once the context of the workplace has been established.

    But I agree putting together a web based video has its challenges.

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