Was it worth going to the World Congress on Safety and Health?

I travelled to the 22nd World Congress on Safety and Health in Singapore as a delegate and a media representative from my home in Australia.  Was it worth attending? Yes and no.  That may seem a weak answer but I attended in two capacities with two purposes – as an occupational health and safety (OHS) professional and an independent media representative.  Both were satisfied a little bit and both could have been better.  Here’s a personal report on my professional and media experiences at the World Congress.

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Vision Zero, Zero Harm, … WTF?

The launch of a “Vision Zero” campaign about occupational health and safety (OHS) was a major element of the recent World Congress on Safety and Health at Work but it has created confusion and some alarm.

The Secretary-General of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) Hans-Horst Konkolewsky told SafetyAtWorkBlog that Vision Zero “is not a Zero Harm campaign”.  However confusion appeared on the first day of the Congress when an organisation was given a Vision Zero award for a safety program that the organisation has just and repeatedly described as “Zero Harm”.

The best solution to this confusion is to ignore the Vision Zero branding and look at the intentions and resources behind the razzamatazz.  If you do, there is a lot of good information.

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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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Zero Harm evidence is “dubious”

The 21st World Congress on Safety and Health in Singapore has closed.  The next will be in 2020 in Toronto Canada. But before the closing ceremony the range of symposia continued.  One discussed best practice in occupational health and safety (OHS) and I had the chance to speak about the downside of Zero Harm. The…

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Exclusive interview with Hans-Horst Konkolewsky on Vision Zero

A major theme of the World Congress of Safety and Health 2017 is the extension and strengthening of the Vision Zero concept.  One of major advocates of this is Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, of the International Social Security Association. Konkolewsky sees Vision Zero as a “life changer”.

Any safety concept that includes the word “zero” is inflammatory to some sectors of the Australian occupational health and safety (OHS) profession as is evident by some of the tweets received by @SafetyOz over the last few hours. Late on Day One a question from the audience also expressed wariness over the use of the concept. However SafetyAtWorkBlog was able to interview Konkolewsky at the congress over a decade after our first interview, when he was head of EU-OSHA.  We outlined the Australian perspective – “Zero Harm” – and his clarification of Vision Zero is important.

Below is audio of the exclusive seven minute interview.

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