Humour, bystanders and safety

Effective consultation is a core element of building a functional safety management system in any workplace.  This involves talking and listening.  Various occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators have pushed this point in the past usually with static images of mouths and ears but WorkSafe New Zealand has released a series of videos in support of its existing”How you can use your mouth” campaign.  Thankfully WorkSafeNZ has taken a leaf from the Air New Zealand book and used humour.

Of particular interest is the brief but importance emphasis on the role of the ethical bystander.

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“We cannot buy the health of people with money”

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Source: Melody Kemp

By Melody Kemp

Walking my dog along the Mekong in Vientiane, new piles of building rubble litter the river bank. The capital has long had a problem with plastic waste, but as unbridled wealth spreads and humble buildings are replaced by garish McMansions, building rubble is turning up in the general detritus. Among the bricks was what looked like the residue of shattered Asbestos Cement sheets; but without necessary skill and a microscope how could anyone tell?

A Vietnamese trader arrives. He rifles through the remains, takes a few of the bigger bits, tosses them in the trailer behind his bike and leaves with a nod.  Later, in the main street outside a hardware shop, a large box of mixed waste lies waiting for collection.  Laos do not separate their waste at source and while there may be provisions for hazardous waste, procedures are not observed. Out of date drugs, toxic chemicals, poohy nappies are tossed into or along the river; are burned or go into general land fill sites. Or are scavenged.

Those few minutes epitomised some of the social/behavioural difficulties of controlling hazardous materials in any of the Mekong nations.  Things are changing thanks to the efforts of ex-ILO Technical Adviser Phillip HazeltonContinue reading ““We cannot buy the health of people with money””

Trade unions, jobs, safety and the future

The recently appointed Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Sally McManus, made a major speech at the National Press Club on 21 March 2018.  It was forecast to lots of media outlets the morning prior to the speech with selected quotes from McManus, flagging how significant the trade union movements consider this speech.

She made her pitch by reiterating the Australian belief in fairness, the “fair go” and said this is based on two things – “having a job you can count on, and fair pay.” Having a “safe job” was sort-of mentioned in the speech but usually in political terms.  It will be interesting how this speech fits with the anticipated speech for International Workers’ Memorial Day in just over a month’s time.

Six trade union achievements were mentioned but workplace health and safety was not

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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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Suicide and OHS media campaigns should achieve tangible outcomes

Don’t jump rock cliff at Sydney, Australia

The benefits of advertising are notoriously difficult to quantify unless there is a specific product being promoted.  Advertising about occupational health and safety (OHS) is usually measured in the level of awareness of the viewers with questions such as

  • Are you aware of WorkSafe?
  • What does WorkSafe do?
  • When we mention WorkSafe to you, what do you think of?

But as with wellbeing initiatives, awareness does not always, some would say rarely, generate action; and action that affects real change.

Recently several Australian researchers looked at some of the existing studies around media campaigns on the prevention of

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