The fluctuating grey zone of compliance

The occupational health and safety (OHS) profession operates within the legislative context of “so far as is reasonably practicable“, that band of compliance, that non-prescriptive, performance-based flexibility offered to employers to encourage them to provide safe and healthy workplaces. It could be said that OHS was easier forty years ago because the compliance band was …

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The future of OHS and Safe Work Australia

Marie Boland‘s work and reviews have been prominent features in Australia’s occupational health and safety (OHS) for over a decade. Last year, she took on the CEO role at Safe Work Australia, the country’s principal workplace health and safety policy body. Recently Boland spoke to the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS). The interview/article …

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Mental Health First Aid is not a harm prevention strategy

Courses in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) are increasingly popular in Australia as employers struggle to understand their (new) occupational health and safety (OHS) obligations to provide psychologically safe and healthy work environments. However, MHFA and OHS are fundamentally incompatible. MHFA is an intervention program, while OHS requires prevention. So, employers who send staff to …

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“10 to 15% of suicides in the working population are attributable to work”

Job strain, job stress, and psychosocial hazards at work have become mainstream if a major public broadcaster produces radio programs and podcasts about them. On March 15, 2024, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s This Working Life program interviewed Australian experts on job strain. The program offered the latest thinking on the prevalence of this hazard and …

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New Australian film on farming life and mental health

“Just a Farmer” is an extraordinary independent Australian film about an all too common occurrence on farms – suicide. The filmmakers have built a strong media profile over the last few months, emphasising the significance of a psychosocial work-related condition. But the film is much more than a film about mental health Note: this article …

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Let’s talk about work-related suicide

Occupational health and safety (OHS) has been fairly successful in reducing the frequency and numbers of traumatic workplace injuries largely because such injuries cannot be hidden or may occur in front of others and increasingly on video. It is a sad reality that work-related deaths generate change and progress. Sometimes the more deaths, the more …

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Mental confusion

Recently, Safe Work Australia published exciting and important data about mental health at work. The data seems to support the assertion that psychosocial hazards at work are a significant risk, but I remain confused. I asked SWA to help unconfuse me and they have tried. One of the biggest handicaps that occupational health and safety …

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