The How, How likely and How much of workplace safety

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I return to the observation Ken made in his article, the obs about the most successful safety places where

“…safety is driven at the shop floor level and led by a committed team of senior executives who can be relied upon to show it by their actions and not just words.”

Of course, at first blush this is about ownership, commitment etc.  But I get the impression that it’s something even more fundamental and that’s about pragmatism.

I’m not sure OHS-World is so good at How, How likely and How much: the things that I’d suggest cut-to-the-chase on defining pragmatism.

In contrast, we seem to get all caught up in What and Why as if that is enough to motivate good safety performance.  What manifests itself as interminable reports of all the horrible safety failures and the injuries that accompany them.  For mine, the only What in this context is a What that matters to the punter.  Did something go wrong in a way and situation that is completely relevant to the punter, so it can be used to look for similar potential at the punter’s place?  The Why I’m referring to is why a punter should fix stuff, specifically in the context of fixing stuff ’cause it’s the right thing to do or ’cause ya can get busted.  Continue reading “The How, How likely and How much of workplace safety”

Rolling the sleeves up – a good OHS technique.

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My father has a smallish block up in the bush, north-east Victoria in the Ovens Valley.  He can’t live there safely anymore, but since he built the place himself and with all the family history it has, it’s a place that has to be retained, and protected from bushfire as much as we reasonably can manage.

My partner and I, plus Dah (and a coupla friends) spent a few weeks there around Christmas and New Year doing lots of scrub clearing, garden things and general tidying up in readiness for the predicted return to hot dry summers after that naughty La Nina begins to fade.   These sort of work trips have been going on over quite a few summers.

The big range of jobs on these tidying-up trips range from trimming large branches, working up on roofs, scrub clearing, lots of load shifting, burn-offs, using lots of different powered equipment (chainsaw, scrub-cutters) and dragging out cut scrub with the ute etc etc.

Doing this work has me often giving lots of thought to doing the job efficiently and safely, and observing my own safety stuff-ups.  It gives me a chance to reflect on the safety system stuff we spend lots of time lecturing punters on and how practical it all is when there is limited time to get the job done, it’s 30 degrees Celsius, and the humidity is at a zillion; in other words, in work conditions lots of people have to deal with all the time. Continue reading “Rolling the sleeves up – a good OHS technique.”

Silly safety memes, knowledge dumps, body of knowledge and accreditation.

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Kevin Jones’s piece on the HSE dilemma with odd reporting of OH&S issues (silly stuff like the popular media reporting HSE banning toothpicks) got me thinkin’ about how silly attitudes about OH&S requirements come about.  And maybe there is something to learn from this when thinking about the OH&S body of knowledge and accreditation system.

Clearly the HSE has every reason to be disturbed by the tone that is developing about OH&S in the UK.  A contemptuous tone has a knock-on effect that undermines confidence in OH&S generally.

But how does this come about in the first place? Are they spontaneous, or is it a case of one ill-considered bit of advice spreading as a meme?[1] And irrespective of the cause, why are these silly safety memes embraced so readily?

Is it because there are enough people more than happy to join in on denigrating OH&S because they simply have had enough of overly complex or unrealistic obligations?  Or maybe the average punter has tired of high-sounding OH&S objectives that don’t turn real in a way that matters to them? Continue reading “Silly safety memes, knowledge dumps, body of knowledge and accreditation.”

Avoiding the OHS training dead-end

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[Ed: There has been a terrific response to Col Finie’s post on training and OHS qualifications both on and off the SafetyAtWorkBlog.  Col provides a further article below]
Brett’s point is critical for mine.

[“I reiterate my point that practical experience is the key, because if you do not use that “core body of knowledge” on a regular basis, then you will most likely forget what you have learned, or at a minimum it may become redundant.”]

It goes to the heart of what has to drive the core body of knowledge and accreditation.

Every qualification is no more (or less) than a catalyst for future learning.  I heard someone mention there is a rule of thumb that any qualification, at any level, becomes redundant within 5 years after completing it if it isn’t supplemented with on-going learning.

Clearly the question of a minimum qualification to start the passage of on-going learning has to be informed by the complex thing of describing a core body of knowledge.  A complex project can only be dealt with properly by dividing into discrete bunches of key issues.  And ideally, that division should be done with as few preconceived ideas as possible.

For mine I think there have been some preconceived ideas brought to the project table that look like they are sending the project into a “solutions cul-de-sac”.  Continue reading “Avoiding the OHS training dead-end”

What academic qualifications are needed to be a safety professional?

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The Safety Institute of Australia has been investigating the development of a “core body of knowledge” for OHS in Australia for some years.  Recently the institute released a discussion paper on the proposed accreditation idea for OH&S professionals.  There is some similarity to moves in other countries such as the UK and to the situation in Canada.  Regular contributor Col Finnie comments below:

“……after a read of [the SIA document I] got very confused.   As far as I can see the accreditation thing seems to not paying any regard to the VET (vocational education) sector, and all the OH&S related quals.   Before I make any comment on the proposed accreditation paper I thought I should look for some clarification from people who are more aware of the nitty gritty.  To that end I posted a topic on the SIA Educators forum [members only].   But to reach a bigger audience I have provided a reproduction of the SIA member’s forum post here.

It’s part question, part observation of what seems to be an anomaly in the way the accreditation conversation seems to be heading.  I’m keen to see what you people reckon.   Continue reading “What academic qualifications are needed to be a safety professional?”