The economics, and politics, of prevention and the cost of doing nothing

LtoR: Terry Nolan, Rod Campbell, Tony Dudley, Rosemary Calder

On July 9 2019, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) conducted a lunchtime seminar in Melbourne about “the economics of prevention“. The event was supported by GlaxoSmithKline who launched a report about the value of vaccines so the lunch promised to be very medical but that quickly changed when Rod Campbell of The Australia Institute (a late replacement for Richard Denniss) spoke. On the issue of cost-benefit analysis, an important consideration in occupational health and safety (OHS) , Campbell was blunt:

“A huge amount of government decisions are not made by informed economic analysis. They’re made by political decisions.”

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One billboard outside Melbourne, Victoria

The Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) is likely to have a different brand name in a couple of months.  Following a member survey some weeks ago SIA Board members have been travelling Australia consulting with members.  This may seem a bit arse about face but a process without consultation would have been a major problem.

Last night was Melbourne’s turn with a forum of about a dozen people hosted by Naomi Kemp.  The survey results are inconclusive so should the rebranding exercise proceed?

Kemp provided some context

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ACCC slaps down the FCAI on quad bike safety

On June 5 2018, Sharon O’Keeffe of the North Queensland Register newspaper aired the response of the Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Mick Keogh to claims from the Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) on the safety of quad bikes and crush protection devices (CPDs). O’Keeffe says “the gloves are off”.

In March 2018, the ACCC announced its intention for a mandatory safety standard for quad bikes, or All Terrain Vehicles (ATV,) that included CPDs. 

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Humour, bystanders and safety

Effective consultation is a core element of building a functional safety management system in any workplace.  This involves talking and listening.  Various occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators have pushed this point in the past usually with static images of mouths and ears but WorkSafe New Zealand has released a series of videos in support of its existing”How you can use your mouth” campaign.  Thankfully WorkSafeNZ has taken a leaf from the Air New Zealand book and used humour.

Of particular interest is the brief but importance emphasis on the role of the ethical bystander.

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OHS is not all about workers compensation data

Every couple of months, after the release of official workplace fatality figures and serious injury, the Australian media reports the three most dangerous industries as Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry.  The latest article appeared in Australia’s Fairfax Media on 17 January 2018.  It is good that occupational health and safety (OHS) is gaining attention.  When so little media attention is given, any publicity is useful.

However this type of article also presents some negatives, including that it may be only representing 60% of all workplace fatalities and serious injuries.

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