Culture – piss or get off the pot. 7

Andrew Hopkins has described organisational culture as “the way we as an organisation do things around here”.  The sociology of this statement is sound and the occupational health and safety (OHS) context seems to be an accepted element of safety management.  But for OHS professionals to continue to advocate the importance of a safety culture it is necessary for them to be aware of how culture is being interpreted and applied elsewhere. The Australian Labor Party recently stated that the Australian banking system needs a Royal Commission because, as Senator Sam Dastyari stated:

“We’ve seen scandal after scandal. We’ve seen failure after failure and we’ve seen a banking sector and a culture develop where effectively these matters are constantly being ignored”. More…

Miserable failures in OHS of labour hire workers 3

Two recent occupational health and safety (OHS) prosecutions in South Australia related to labour hire employees and providers indicate changes in enforcement approach and clues for change as they illustrate how some people and companies have almost no regard for the safety of its employees.

According to a SafeWorkSA media release dated 28 May 2016 (not available online at the time of writing):

“The Industrial Court convicted Queensland based labour hire company, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd, and imposed a penalty of $150 000 plus court costs.

On 22 October 2012, Mr Clinton Benson, a contracted employee on the South Road Superway project, suffered life threatening injuries when his head was crushed between a lifting arm and welding table.

Following investigation by SafeWork SA, Fix Force (Qld) Pty Ltd was charged with offences under the then Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 (SA), for failure to ensure its employee was safe from injury and risk to health whist at work, as far as was reasonably practicable.”

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Stress advice that builds on what came before 4

In occupational health and safety (OHS), as in most things, it is possible to learn more from what is not said than what is said. Recently WorkSafe Victoria released a guidebook for employers on “Preventing and managing work-related stress”. Given the current community focus on stress, health and wellness, discussion of this document’s release has been quite muted. Part of the reason is that, in some ways, the guidebook does not fit with the contemporary health and wellness push.

WorkSafe has been publishing guidance on workplace stress and its subset, workplace bullying, for well over 20 years. It’s Stresswise publication  has been a de facto reference on the hazard and the workplace bullying changes initiated by the ACTU and implemented by WorkSafe Victoria, emerged from. ACTU surveys of its members specifically on workplace stress.

Part of the significance of investigating workplace stress is that the major causes are institutional, that is, the way businesses are managed rather than with the individual’s capacity to cope. It is here that the WorkSafe guidebook conflicts with the common approaches of the wellness advocates.
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Workplace Bullying needs a broad and integrated approach 5

Recently, through LinkedIn, a Human Resources (HR) professional wrote an article that busted some myths about workplace bullying.  It is a useful article but also illustrates that HR and occupational health and safety (OHS) still have some way to go before providing a coordinated approach to workplace bullying and the mental health issues that contribute to the psychosocial hazard.

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Two ABC radio broadcasts on OHS 3

Dolly Parton sang about working 9 to 5, asked “what a way to make a living” and asserted that it would drive you crazy if you let it.  Many workers would look on a shift of only 9 to 5 as a luxury.  ABC Radio in Brisbane played this song as an introduction to a series of radio interviews about workplace safety in which myself and Professor Niki Ellis participated on 9 May 2016.

Curiously the interview, part of their The Juggle series, occurs in the Drive time slot of 4pm to 6pm but the discussion was almost all about occupational health and safety  (OHS) in the office environment.  If 9 to 5 still exists anywhere, the audience for office safety information was busy.  It would have been interesting to talk about OHS and work vehicles. More…