HR and OHS need to be playmates now more than ever

One of the fascinating elements of this year’s National Comcare conference is the conflict between the Human Resources (HR) approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers compensation, and the OHS approach to psychosocial hazards.  This is not the fault of Comcare as the audience is a peculiar mix of both professions.

The difference was on display when some presenters focused on the post-incident care and, almost entirely, on interventions on the individual.  Other presenters focused on the prevention of physical and psychological injuries – the OHS approach.  The former seemed warmly embraced by the HR professionals.  There were other speakers, or parts of their presentations, where prevention was almost mentioned as an afterthought and even then omitting references to their organisation’s own OHS publications.

There has always been a structural and ideological separation of the professions

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OHS outcomes of ACTU Congress 2018

Below is the list of occupational health and safety (OHS) issues for the next three years, put to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and passed, at its Congress on 18 July 2018.  Some were expected but others will cause concern, primarily, for business owners.  Perhaps the major concern is that these commitments are to be rolled out nationally.

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Australian Workplace Safety Bureau

There seems to be a growing community frustration with regulators who hesitate to prosecute about breaches of laws, including occupational health and safety (OHS) laws, and about options that sound reasonable, like Enforceable Undertakings, but still let businesses “off the hook”.  The calls for Industrial Manslaughter laws are the most obvious manifestations of the anger and frustration from perceived injustices.

But perhaps there was another way to achieve change in workplace safety, a way that could be based on a model that Australia and other countries already have.

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New workplace wellbeing report is what it is

Converge and Reventure launched their latest research report into workplace wellbeing on 23 November 2017.  The report, not yet available online, is based round a survey of just over 1000 Australians comprising over 80% full-time or part-time employees,  The report has been produced as a guide for businesses and may be of some interest to health and safety people but is of limited application.


Most research reports include a clear statement of the aim of the research or a definition of the concept being investigated. 

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The clash between money and lives

A media release from Australia’s Minister for Employment, Michaela Cash, starts the theme of management of workers compensation on the cusp of National Safe Work Month.  The purpose of the media release is ostensibly to celebrate that Comcare has become a fully funded scheme for the first time since 2010 but this is undermined by party politics:

“These results are another clear example of the Turnbull Government cleaning up after Labor’s slack financial management, while still delivering the most efficient and effective service for injured and ill employees.

Under Labor, Comcare had become a budget black hole into which taxpayer’s money simply disappeared.”

Continue reading “The clash between money and lives”

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