WorkSafe Victoria has actively campaigned against occupational violence for the last few years. The pandemic, understandably, brought the focus onto violence against emergency services workers and healthcare staff. Recently the campaign has focussed on gendered violence at work. The intention is to be inclusive, to address the variety of violent acts and the variety of people gendered violence affects, but it is not as inclusive as it could be.
Online training, offline training. What gives?
Occupational health and safety (OHS) training has been forced to revolutionise over the last couple of plague-ridden years from face-to-face in a room to face-to-face online through Teams, Zoom and many other variations. Traditional “in-Room” training is sneaking back, but the majority remains online. However, OHS training providers in Victoria feel they are being pulled from pillar to post by WorkSafe Victoria.
“There is too little time and the ask is too big to try to change the system”.
There are many similarities between the management of occupational health and safety (OHS) and environment protection. Both seek to prevent and/or mitigate harm, and both have similarly focussed legislation. However, this similarity extends to vulnerabilities in each approach. Neither discipline is solely responsible for the lack of progress in prevention and protection, but both have not realised their potential for change.
Improving the OHS state of knowledge
Earlier today, I wrote about the potential benefits of having an Australian Workplace Safety Bureau, an idea I first proposed in 2018. Others have similar thoughts.
On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) website, Elizabeth Byrne has written about the decade-long effort of Kay Catanzariti to gain justice, and an apology, for the death of her son, Ben. Catanzariti has been a strong advocate for workplace health and safety for a long time. The ABC article quotes Catanzariti:
“Mrs Catanzariti says her experience shows that investigators need more expertise. “I want a federal investigation team for deaths on worksites,” she says.”
Hypocrisy is the biggest drag on OHS achievement
It is impossible to write about occupational health and safety (OHS) without mentioning hypocrisy – when one’s actions fail to meet the commitments we espouse. An important example was identified by a SafetyAtWorkBlog reader concerning the damning inquiry into Queensland’s public sector culture.
Several years ago, Queensland’s work health and safety authority issued a “Five year strategic plan for work health and safety in Queensland 2019 -2023” infographic that states this Goal:
“Queensland Government is a model client/employer and leader in work health and safety.”
OHS Communication must be effective
Dr Kelly Jaunzems is writing her thesis on how we communicate on occupational health and safety issues. Her thesis has been embargoed for a few more years, but she released some information in March 2022. Dr Jaunzems said:
“Working safely depends upon the successful sending and receiving of relevant information, in accessible, easy to read formats. If that information is not received, not understood, misunderstood, not implemented or actioned, then an organisation has not complied with the legislation. And most importantly, ineffective OSH communication jeopardises workers safety…”
Look to Enforceable Undertakings for OHS lessons
There are more work health and safety lessons from a Near Miss incident than a workplace death. There is also more information about how occupational health and safety (OHS) should be managed in an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) than there is from a prosecution.
Recently there were several EU’s in Queensland that illustrated these OHS management lessons. Here’s a discussion about one of them