“We cannot buy the health of people with money”

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Source: Melody Kemp

By Melody Kemp

Walking my dog along the Mekong in Vientiane, new piles of building rubble litter the river bank. The capital has long had a problem with plastic waste, but as unbridled wealth spreads and humble buildings are replaced by garish McMansions, building rubble is turning up in the general detritus. Among the bricks was what looked like the residue of shattered Asbestos Cement sheets; but without necessary skill and a microscope how could anyone tell?

A Vietnamese trader arrives. He rifles through the remains, takes a few of the bigger bits, tosses them in the trailer behind his bike and leaves with a nod.  Later, in the main street outside a hardware shop, a large box of mixed waste lies waiting for collection.  Laos do not separate their waste at source and while there may be provisions for hazardous waste, procedures are not observed. Out of date drugs, toxic chemicals, poohy nappies are tossed into or along the river; are burned or go into general land fill sites. Or are scavenged.

Those few minutes epitomised some of the social/behavioural difficulties of controlling hazardous materials in any of the Mekong nations.  Things are changing thanks to the efforts of ex-ILO Technical Adviser Phillip HazeltonContinue reading ““We cannot buy the health of people with money””

Out of Range – Work Risks of Wildlife Protection Officers

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by Melody Kemp

 It was nine at night and the shooters had the advantage of superior fire power and night vision goggles …. We stood no chance. Two friends were killed…”

Source: Project Anoulak

David Paklett, a Wildlife Ranger working in Tanzania pulled up his trouser leg and showed me an ugly red scar that looked a bit like an alien pasted to his skin. It was 2013. We were in Spain’s ancient university town of Salamanca, at WILD 10, a sporadic gathering of wilderness and conservation specialists.  He told me how the year before, he and his colleagues had been in a John Woo style shoot out with Vietnamese poachers. The Vietnamese were overhead in a helicopter, firing at them with automatic rifles. ‘It was nine at night and the shooters had the advantage of superior fire power and night vision goggles.’

His words have stayed with me.

‘We stood no chance. Two friends were killed, and I got this.’ When I looked up, his eyes had the look of someone who was looking back with horror. ‘Did you ever talk about that night with anyone?’ I asked sipping a Rioja red. ‘Who is there to tell?’ David grimaced. ‘It’s part of the job. The game has changed. The Chinese are arming these guys and making sure they get away with the kill. The forces behind them are so powerful and we have no resources.’

Lao Rangers in the Annamite mountain range report the same fear according to Bill Robichaud. ‘Camera traps showed these guys (poachers) to have the latest technology, to be well dressed and armed, with modern communication and GPS gear.’ Continue reading “Out of Range – Work Risks of Wildlife Protection Officers”

Singapore’s Prime Minister shows mature approach to OHS

Lee Hsien Loong centre)

It has been noted that the recent World Congress on Safety And Health at Work had “Vision Zero” as one of its three themes.  It was curious that the opening remarks of Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong (pictured right), did not mention Vision Zero at all.  In fact he was quite measured in his speech which placed him in a better position to argue for real safety targets and initiatives.

In contrast to many business leaders, and some of the speakers at the World Congress, the Prime Minister stated that

“workplace accidents and injuries are almost always preventable.”

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“Shoelaces” – a safety ad that is impossible to ignore

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The World Congress on Safety And Health 2017 has awarded some media producers for their occupational health and safety (OHS) themed productions.  Below is one of them.

There is some thematic similarity to WorkSafe Victoria’s Homecoming campaign, specifically to the child wait for the Father to return from work and the mother on the phone, but there are different emotional touchpoints.

A major part of the emotional impact comes from the ad not dealing with a workplace fatality.  The reaction from the Father in the hospital bed is powerful.

The ad is well worth watching and sharing.

Kevin Jones

Zero, health and people – themes of the World Congress on Safety & Health

In front of thousands of delegates and dignitaries, the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health was officially opened yesterday by the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

There are three themes of this conference:

  • Vision Zero – From Vision to Reality
  • Healthy work—Healthy life
  • People-centred prevention
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