Useful safety information from the US

Free Access

One always has to be careful about information released on April Fools’ Day but in 2011 an important pieces of safety information from the United States was released – a video message from the Chemical Safety Board (CSB).  A reader also pointed to a set of OHS case studies from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMASS) released in January.

Twelve months after the Tesoro Refinery fire in Washington in which seven people died, CSB is continuing its investigation but has released a video message, by Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso, that is confronting and displays the exasperation of  safety regulators.

Continue reading “Useful safety information from the US”

Workplace safety challenges for the Coffice

Free Access

What is a workplace?  In Australia, the easy answer is “wherever work takes place”.  This seems sensible and logical but think about it and the impact on businesses and community will be large.  The Sunday Age newspaper reports on one business that is setting down some ground rules for those who are running businesses from their cafe or, what the article describes as “coffices“. Continue reading “Workplace safety challenges for the Coffice”

Operational Risk Management – a timeless book, sadly

Free Access

For several years now Mark Abkowitz’s book “Operational Risk Management” has been sitting on my “to-read” shelf.  Given my recent wish for a case study approach to leadership and given the Fukushima nuclear issues, the book caught my attention.

Books that analyse disasters are far superior to watching real-time disasters because the distress is minimised, the analysis can be dispassionate and time can provide a more detailed context.  (The quickness of production of some of the books about the BP/Gulf of Mexico suffered from the curse of topicality)  Books provide a distance that the constant exposure to “disaster porn” does not.

Operational Risk Management looks at many at many disasters from the last 30 years but the disasters are not only industrial and process disasters, although Chernobyl and Bhopal are covered. Continue reading “Operational Risk Management – a timeless book, sadly”

Election excitement masks OHS confusion

Free Access

The Liberal Party of New South Wales won last Saturday’s State election in a landslide.  The New South Wales employer associations are jubilant but the jubilation masks some confusion over OHS reforms.

The new NSW government is being urged to act promptly on OHS reform issues particularly by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and the NSW Business Council but the media statement of the AICD illustrates the confused understanding of the national OHS reforms. It says

“Reforms should include reducing the burden on business of excessive regulation, re-committing NSW to participate in the national reform of occupational health and safety laws and reducing the excessive liability burden imposed on company directors by state legislation.”

“The new government must move decisively in its first term to reduce unnecessary regulation and red tape, which is strangling business.”

It is acknowledged that the introduction of new OHS laws will substantially increase the need for paperwork in order to produce the evidence required to support compliance, due diligence and positive OHS duties on managers. It seems impossible to achieve OHS reforms with also accepting the increased documentation. Continue reading “Election excitement masks OHS confusion”

Managerial OHS walk-arounds and D&O liabilities

Free Access

The latest edition of The National Research Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Regulation’s newsletter lists two new working papers, one from Andrew Hopkins and one from Neil Foster.  Both should be obligatory reading.

Hopkins discusses how to increase the value of the “management walk-arounds” an increasingly common key performance indicator for senior executives.  Hopkins, naturally, uses the Deep Water Horizon case as an illustration of the flaws in the process but walk-arounds should not only be for large projects.

Hopkins shows that the VIPs had an inadequate understanding of safety.  They identified the slips, trips and falls hazards rather than asking questions about the potential major hazards of the facility.  This is a common trap for managers and safety professionals, for those with suitable OHS skills, and one that needs to be actively countered.  Continue reading “Managerial OHS walk-arounds and D&O liabilities”