The Ballarat Regional Occupational Safety and Health (BROSH) group conducted an online seminar on March 31, 2002 at which Tracey Browne of the Australian Industry Group (AIGroup) spoke. The content was very good, and the format worked even though many people are still trying to acclimatise to online meetings and the muting of microphones.
Browne provided a general update on managing occupational health and safety (OHS) during the COVID19 pandemic disruption but there were a couple of notable contributions.
In mid-March, pandemic advice from occupational health and safety (OHS) regulators was assessed with the generic guidance from WorkSafe Victoria being praised. Many changes to workplaces have occurred since then and Safe Work Australia (SWA) has caught up with the demand for industry-specific guidance on managing work in this pandemic. SWA’s advice is very good and is discussed below.
There has been much discussion about mixed messages in relation to the COVID19 coronavirus pandemic. Occupational health and safety (OHS) is still trying to adjust to the new working environment and needs to be careful it does not contribute to the confusion that mixed messages is creating.
Some of the mix comes from the growth in influence of alternative information and media sources linked to the Internet. Some is concerned with the declining trust the community has in government and private institutions. Some more may have come from the complacency of the OHS profession and community.
Below is an example of the mixed message problem when OHS is jumbled up with other considerations, even though one article says that OHS has become everything.
This blog transitioned from a self-published magazine almost 12 years ago. In 2003, the magazine published an edition focussing on the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ) outbreak which includes a long article by Peter Sandman and Jody Lanard on epidemics and fear, an emotion that many of us are feeling in these uncertain times. The full magazine is available for subscribers below.
In 2005 I was able to interview prominent risk communicator, Peter Sandman. It was a time of pandemic threats from Avian Influenza, or “Bird Flu”, and we talked about pandemics, their complications and their management. The virus situation has progressed enormously from 2005 to today’s announcement by the World Health Organisation of a coronavirus pandemic but I provide access to this interview to offer a different and historical perspective on the current outbreak of coronavirus. I also had to include my tips for managing coronavirus in Australian workplaces.
Of most interest and relevance, perhaps, is this statement from Peter Sandman:
“If you really think there is going to be a severe pandemic, the first thing you are going to want to do is organise the earliest survivors, the people who get the flu and don’t die, into delivery people. Then they can deliver food and fuel and everything people need so that everyone else can stay home .”