Is Business really a punching bag?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) cannot afford to be anti-business. No business = no jobs = no need for OHS. And business groups should not be anti-OHS, yet it often feels that they are. A recent opinion piece by Bran Black of the Business Council of Australia argues that the success of businesses in Australia is central the economy. This is typical of the type of articles that appear in the business-friendly media as part of “soft” lobbying of the federal government prior to the May Budget.

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A good working-from-home book… finally

One of the most appealing little occupational health and safety (OHS) crossed my desk the other day. It is a small, cheap book called “Work Well From Home – Staying Effective in the Age of Remote and Hybrid Working“. Although this updated edition was published in 2023, its appeal is that it is a reissue from 2005 when the advice is largely pre-COVID, pre-broadband service, pre-Zoom, and pre- lots of issues that now seem to complicate working from home.

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“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council is conducting a public inquiry into sentencing and penalties for breaches of occupational health and safety (OHS). Public hearings are continuing, and the inquiry is receiving some well-deserved media attention.

ABC’s The Law Report recently devoted an episode to Industrial Manslaughter laws and the sentencing inquiry. The IM section of the episode was very familiar, but the sentencing inquiry was intriguing.

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New international standard for evaluating OHS performance

On February 13th, 2024, the International Technical Committee (ISO TC 283) responsible for the design and development of ISO 45004:2024 OH&S Performance Evaluation reported that the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) ballot yielded 54/55 supporting votes, equating to a very strong 98% international ballot approval.

ISO 45004:2024 is intended to help organisations to effectively monitor, measure, analyse and evaluate occupational health and safety (OHS) performance. OHS performance evaluation includes the organisation’s processes to assess the adequacy of activities expected to achieve intended results. OHS performance is normally evaluated using a combination of processes and sources of information such as incident investigations, inspections, audits, qualitative and quantitative indicators, culture surveys and interviews.

The new standard was published last week.

{The is a guest post by David Solomon; details are below. Some grammar changes have been applied, and hyperlinks added by SafetyAtWorkBlog]

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New Australian film on farming life and mental health

Just a Farmer” is an extraordinary independent Australian film about an all too common occurrence on farms – suicide. The filmmakers have built a strong media profile over the last few months, emphasising the significance of a psychosocial work-related condition. But the film is much more than a film about mental health

Note: this article mentions suicide

There are two possible approaches to this film – a story about the realities of farm life and a depiction of mental ill-health. That both these overlapping approaches are satisfied by this film is a mark of a successful story and production.

The movie opens in over 100 Australian cinema screens on March 21, 2024.

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The (fatal) flaw in over-reliance on government safety funding

As I write this, I am in a rooftop bar not far from the Astor Theatre, where the new Australian film ”Just a Farmer” is premiering. I am expecting a powerful story of the struggles of a farming family and community after one of their members dies by suicide. The film will likely touch on themes like the dearth of mental health support services in rural areas, the male-dominated culture of farming in Australia and the need and desire for more occupational health and safety (OHS) support services in the country. But it is the latter struggle that is most on my mind at the moment.

National organisations that support farm safety are not guaranteed the level of funding from governments they have received previously. Although the federal budget remains in surplus, it is politically expedient to keep the government purse strings tight in this time of high-interest rates and a cost-of-living crisis. This affects support services and programs for farm safety.

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Let’s talk about work-related suicide

Occupational health and safety (OHS) has been fairly successful in reducing the frequency and numbers of traumatic workplace injuries largely because such injuries cannot be hidden or may occur in front of others and increasingly on video. It is a sad reality that work-related deaths generate change and progress. Sometimes the more deaths, the more significant that change or, the quicker that change occurs. However, it is even sadder that change often requires a death.

Note: this article discusses suicide.

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