WorkSafe Victoria’s optimism is for the whole community

Marnie Williams, Executive Director of WorkSafe Victoria launched 2018 with a presentation at a breakfast seminar organised by the Safety Institute of Australia and hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills in Melbourne.  Williams illustrated that WorkSafe is very aware of community and business expectations on her authority’s performance and showed WorkSafe is very busy as it restructures around its relocation to Geelong and elsewhere  However it could change even more or in different, more sustainable, ways.

Williams’ presentation proposed a positive future where the actions and issues associated with occupational health and safety (OHS) broaden to involve the Victorian community and address safety and health concerns that may no longer fit within the established OHS definitions, approaches and strategies.

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Finally some valuable and practical details on occupational health and safety programs

Earlier this month SafetyAtWorkBlog was critical of a (still yet to be released) guidebook on “Integrated approaches to worker health, safety and well-being”.  Specifically the case study information in the guidebook needed more depth and it was suggested that

“ This weakness could be compensated for through a strong campaign where the companies in the case studies speak about their experiences first-hand.”

The Victorian Workcover Authority (VWA) has redeemed itself slightly with a presentation by one of the case studies’ safety managers during the authority’s annual OHS week.  Murray Keen of ConnectEast provided a detailed list of the combination of safety and health programs the company has applied over the last few years.  Keen claims that these programs have contributed to the company having

  • no workers compensation claims since december 2009;
  • a much lower than average attrition rate in its call centre;
  • annual absenteeism of 4.6 days per person compared to a national average of between 8.75 and 9.2 days; and
  • only 4 first aid incidents for the 2013-14 financial year – no Lost Time Injury or Medical Treatment Injury.

Keen also told the audience that the company has granted him a year-on-year increase to his safety budget and when asked about the cost of the programs introduced he said that one workers compensation claim almost covered the cost of the safety program.

This level of detail is what the guidebook was lacking as it provided the information that many safety managers would need to make a case to their executives for support and resources.

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Bullying has many causes and too many avenues of appeal

On 18 October 2011, there was a brief discussion on workplace bullying in the ACT Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).  The question to Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, stemmed, ostensibly, from a recent WorkSafe ACT assessment of Canberra restaurants and food retailers.  The assessment identified that:

“… only 66 per cent of food outlets were compliant with workplace bullying regulations.”

Such a statement needs considerable explanation to be of use in safety management but it led to a further question from Greens MP Meredith Hunter, one which indicates the confused status of workplace bullying control options.

“Minister, what consideration has the ACT government given to bullying as a ground for discrimination under the ACT’s Discrimination Act, which would give complainants and respondents to bullying complaints access to the Human Rights Commission’s investigation and conciliation functions and clear remedies for victimisation of a person making a complaint?”

It is unreasonable to expect that a Code of Practice on workplace bullying drafted under OHS laws would have the capacity to control the hazard, or provide sufficient guidance, when there are other avenues for restitution that are far more involved, such as discrimination and human rights commissions and tribunals. Continue reading “Bullying has many causes and too many avenues of appeal”

Move your way to better health

Further to the recent posting on cardiovascular disease research, Dr David Dunstan participated in an online media briefing on 12 January 2010. (Video and audio interviews have begun to appear on line)

It is often difficult to identify control measures for workplace hazards from the raw research data.  Dr Dunstan, this morning elaborated on the possible workplace control measures that employers can design into workplaces in order to reduce the CVD risk from prolonged sedentary work.   Continue reading “Move your way to better health”

Alternative therapies

Many alternative therapies have proved to have a positive therapeutic or medical benefit and there is no reason why these should not be applied to work-related conditions.

In 2001, Jill Kaufman was interviewed for Safety At Work magazine.  The interview is now available at SafetyAtWorkblog.

In 2001, the wellness industry in Australia was just starting and corporate health programs were searching for validity and credibility.  Rehabilitation, just like health insurers, was beginning to allow for a broader range of medical treatments.  It seemed useful to educate the OHS readers of the magazine with this developing approach to worker care.

Jill’s comments should be seen in their historical context but this does not make them any less interesting , or relevant.  Below are a couple of excerpts:

“Placing a long term RTW employee through the Western medical process could, in fact, be continuing to injure them in terms of their self-esteem. A different approach on a holistic basis allows for an understanding of the injury through an understanding of the person.”

“SAW: Many rehabilitation programs measure success by the rapid return of a worker to work duties but also by the financial expenditure on that person’s rehabilitation. Can the value of the approach you advocate be similarly measured?

JK: There can be surprisingly simple solutions to what can appear to be very complicated issues. I think one of the surprising things that companies learn is that it is often not a big financial expenditure or a large amount of time that can provide positive results. If you tackle the problem with the wrong instruments and the wrong tools, it can seem a very long haul to turn around and use a non-Western approach. But in fact shifts in thinking can bring about quick results.”

“SAW: Many call centres are providing yoga, physiotherapy and massages to workers on the premises and often without the workers leaving their workstations. What are your thoughts on this practice?

JK: Often this is doing the absolute minimum that is required. To have people doing yoga at their desk, when a core element of yoga is centring your self, breathing exercises, the call centre is as different to the practices of yoga as you can get.”