Sexual harassment may be an OHS issue but what priority should it receive?

One online news site in Australia has suggested that sexual harassment is an occupational health and safety (OHS) issue.  At first blush, it should be.  Sexual harassment can create mental ill-health and can certainly be harmful. But from the early days of discussions about workplace bullying and occupational violence in Australia, sexual harassment has been consciously excluded from OHS.

Is It or Isn’t It?

Some of the best discussion on bullying, harassment and violence was written by Dr Clare Mayhew for the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2000.  These included a practical handbook on prevention. (It’s peculiar that some of the most perceptive works on OHS occur outside the OHS profession.  Well perhaps not so surprising.)  In the handbook, Mayhew points out that harassment has always been an element of workplace bullying but excludes sexual harassment from her discussion:

“The Australian Institution of Criminology believes that prevention, rather than post-incident reaction, is the key to improved outcomes. However, the handbook needs to be adapted specifically to each organisation for best results. The discussions exclude activity that could be described as sexual harassment, which is extensively dealt with elsewhere.” (page 1)

This position is reflective of the OHS literature yet, on reflection, this position may have been wrong for it contributed to a fractured approach to managing workplace psychosocial hazards. 

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Victoria joins the push for licencing labour hire

Free Access

Victoria is the latest Australian State to introduce laws into Parliament that establish a licencing scheme for labour hire operators. The Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 was read into Parliament on 14 December 2017 (Hansard, pages 55-61)

The Bill is compatible with the laws passed recently in Queensland and South Australia which apply a universal licencing scheme rather than a sectoral one as preferred by some organisations.  This should make the scheme easier to administer as it removes demarcation disputes and, as pointed out by the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan, removes loopholes of opportunity for avoiding obligations – a critical consideration in a sector that has shown such disregard for legal obligations. Continue reading “Victoria joins the push for licencing labour hire”

Action demanded on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry

On 12 December 2017, part of Australia’s screen and television industry held a forum in Sydney about sexual harassment in the sector and what could be done to reduce this workplace hazard. This initiative occurred a day before an open letter was published about sexual harassment in the music industry.  There is a momentum for change on sexual harassment in the workplace, but it is at risk of resulting in a fragmented approach which will generate turf wars, confusion and, ultimately, ineffectiveness.

The

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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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