Some readers have asked for more information about the “Share Solutions” program mentioned in a previous article. The initiative started in 1988 but this article is based on the second edition from 1995.
In 1995, pre-internet, the precursor to WorkSafe Victoria, the Health and Safety Organisation Victoria produced a Share Solutions manual (with an unfortunate sex doll-like graphic). This hard copy folders included single page solutions to common workplace hazards. These solutions were submitted usually by those workers or Health and Safety Representatives who had developed a solution to a hazard particular to their workplace. The solutions were shared with the program participants with acknowledgement of the origin.
Many of the solutions, such as interlock devices, trolleys, noise dampeners, drip trays, ROPS for tractors, step access for trucks, and vacuums for stone-cutting, have become standard equipment and practice but in 1995 many of these solutions were new. In fact in some current workplaces, such equipment would still be considered innovative.
The intentions of the Share Solutions program is perhaps best explained in the Foreword written by Kaye Owen:
“SHARE is an acronym for Safety Health Accumulated Research Experience. The program identifies arid promotes successful solutions to common workplace health and safety problems. In keeping with its name, SHARE is about the exchange of
innovative and practical ideas within industry.
SHARE originated as an initiative between the Ballarat CAE and the Department of Labour , in 1988. It has subsequently released over 300 solutions, each tackling one or more workplace problems including noise, guarding and manual handling hazards.
This edition of SHARE represents a new stage in its development. It is presented to you in a new-look, easy to read format, complete with new binder, and offering a brand new series of innovative solutions. For your convenience coloured dividers have been provided which should be inserted to organise this and all forthcoming sets of SHARE solutions.
SHARE is a two way experience. The project aims to provide you with original and exciting examples of how other organisations deal with their workplace hazards, however, to be totally effective, it needs your input, If your workplace has developed a good, workable solution – then share it. Contact the SHARE Co-ordinator or post an outline of your solution to the HSO and we’ll take it from there.
The central focus of SHARE is to provide a network for information sharing and a resource which is readily accessible to all industry employees and employers. In this way all workplaces can benefit from the program and help reduce the high costs, and unacceptable levels, of injury and death in industry.
SHARE isn’t just about safer work practices and environments. Anyone who has ever developed a successful solution will testify, I am sure, that in addressing the workplace hazard, work flow and productivity has clearly improved. And, in many cases, so has worker morale.
SHARE encourages everyone, from the worker on the factory floor to the health and safety representative to the managing director, to be involved in solving health and safety issues. That way every one is responsible, everyone has a say – and everyone benefits.
SHARE is a good way for all workplaces to think about working ‘smarter’ and, in many instances, doing so at minimal financial cost.”
At the core of this program is the share of information about a solution to a specific hazard in a specific workplace. The relevance of such solutions to other workplaces is hidden unless there is some mechanism through which this solutions is shared. In the past this may have relied on OHS consultants travelling from workplace to workplace letting people know of an innovation they saw in a previous workplace. The Share Solutions program was an attempt to replicate that knowledge sharing process.
Whether the potentially new iteration of Share Solutions is a website, blog, app, handbook, vodcast or podcast is anyone’s guess but there is a core of knowledge sharing that could be used as the base for any of these new communication mechanisms. Whether it is monetised or funded philanthropically should not be an impediment to thinking creatively about how to share useful OHS information.
It may not be necessary to reinvent the wheel but we should still encourage people to improve on the wheel. The same approach could be applied to occupational health and safety solutions from the past that may be just as relevant now.