Safety is less of a joke but still struggles for credibility

In a SafetyAtWorkBlog post from early 2008, “Is OHS a Joke?“, I included an example of the misunderstanding of occupational health and safety (OHS) by a supermarket worker. This echoed some of the myths being busted by the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive. OHS is less of a joke in 2010, but only just. HSE’s myth-busting campaign was suspended in 2018, but OHS may face a more significant challenge than ridicule, its credibility. The application of OHS laws is gradually eroding the “occupational” from the “health and safety”, and the social ripples of this change are only just being acknowledged.

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The absurdity of Work

In early July 2019, my son and I braved a cold Melbourne Friday night to see our very first improvisational comedy show. The catalyst was a show called “F**k this, I Quit“, produced by the Improv Conspiracy, and which is based on the work experiences of the audience there on the night. I was one of around fifteen in the audience, in a room that only holds forty people, and so occupational health and safety (OHS) became a featured theme that night. I, and OHS, was roasted and it was definitely the funniest night of my professional life.

Several audience members were asked about their work experiences. I mentioned that I consulted in OHS, had provided advice to some of Victoria’s licenced brothels, had an uncomfortable conversation one time about discussing nipples while at work and that I thought the most dangerous workplace hazard was electricity as it was invisible and deadly.

Continue reading “The absurdity of Work”

Two apocryphal Santa safety tales

Safety Lesson 1 – Check Santa’s Constitution

As a child I lived across the road from a carpet factory.  This huge factory had a wide paddock next door that, for a time, had two golf fairways and greens and a chicken farm.  This paddock was the scene of the annual Christmas Party and, although my parents had no association with the factory, some of the neighbourhood kids wangled our way into the work’s Christmas Party.

One year the company chose to have Santa arrive by helicopter.  We could hear the noise from some way off and a landing site in the paddock had been roped off.  It didn’t take long for the noise from the children, already hyperactive on sugary drinks in a hot Australian Summer, to match the helicopter’s noise as the children ran to the roped area.

The helicopter lands, the propellers wind down as the children’s cheering increases.  Continue reading “Two apocryphal Santa safety tales”

OHS needs more comedies like Safety First

a54c5e_887371bdbda842de8bfb875829197d4f Safety First, is a dig at the absurdity of some of the training and concepts behind occupational health and safety (OHS) and is showing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The comedy does not ridicule OHS as a concept but focuses on the idiotic, semi-informed trainers who talk about safety whilst also, often, talking shit.  The humour is effective and occasionally generates discomfort for its proximity to reality. Continue reading “OHS needs more comedies like Safety First”

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