Improve the profession by improving the professionals

The occupational safety profession (OHS) in Australia is often described as being populated by older white males, as being dull and ill-informed.  This perception has generated offshoots such as Women in Safety and Health, and Young Safety Professionals (YSP) with similar actions occurring in many other professions. It is easier than ever to develop professional groups that better address one’s needs but this can miss out on opportunities to change those older white males who are prepared to listen and learn.

These subgroups can often be more innovative than the larger profession events, partly because they are smaller, but also because their audience has different expectations and capacities. Recently

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The Safety Anarchist

Professor Sidney Dekker has a new book out called “The Safety Anarchist – 
Relying on human expertise and innovation, reducing bureaucracy and compliance“.  Last month Sidney spoke exclusively with SafetyAtWorkBlog about the issues of governance, risk assessment, the safety profession, bureaucracy, centralisation and the cost of compliance.  The full conversation is available at the Safety At Work Talks podcasts and below.

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Latest safety culture report on construction has lessons for all

In 2012, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government undertook a review of safety in its construction industry and produced a report called “Getting Home Safely“. In early 2017, the Government contracted RMIT University to review the construction sector’s work health and safety culture in the aftermath of the 2012 report and government actions since them.   The September 2017 report was only recently made public.

The RMIT University report includes a very good and super-current discussion about safety culture and safety climate but its findings are of limited help in improving OHS performance in the construction sector.

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Action on insurance for OHS penalties slows down

In all of the discussion about the new industrial manslaughter laws in Queensland, the topic of directors and officers liability insurance has been overlooked.  As mentioned in an earlier article

“….the Queensland Government has promised to ban insurance products that pay occupational health and safety (OHS) penalties imposed against employers.”

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Look to the source of workplace conflict, exploitation and injustice

Occupational health and safety advocates are pushing for safety management and strategies to refocus on people by talking about “people-centric” approaches and recalibrating legislation to re-emphasise prevention.  This push parallels society’s frustration with political strategies that favour big business, the under-investment in education and health care systems and companies that announce record profits at the same time as sacking staff.  That frustration is becoming accepted by political parties that are starting to apply more people-centric policies or by countries and States that are appointing representatives from outside the mainstream political organisations.

At a closing event for National Safe Work Month on 1 November 2017, WorkSafe Victoria’s CEO, 

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