ICAP Congress of Applied Psychology is a neglected OHS resource

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In July 2010, Melbourne Australia is hosting the 2010 conference of the International Congress of Applied Psychology.  What was an OHS consultant at this conference?  The question should be why wasn’t OHS consultants at this conference?

This conference is not about workplace safety, per se.  It is about how people think and communicate.  It provides research (some would say evidence), often about how people relate to each other at work.  The exciting content of this ICAP Conference makes the Safety In Action Conference look like a history lesson.

The conference has made the full program and the speaker abstracts online, for free.  Both are big PDF files but are excellent resources for those OHS professionals looking for the latest research into bullying, driver safety, health & wellbeing, organisational behaviour, leadership, fatigue, stress and other issues. Continue reading “ICAP Congress of Applied Psychology is a neglected OHS resource”

Prominent OHS regulator addresses ASSE conference

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The Gulf of Mexico disaster has dominated American media but in mid-June 2010, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, David Michaels, spoke to the national conference of the American Society of Safety Engineers.  The full video of Michaels address is available online at http://vimeo.com/12591365 (Other safety associations should take note of this conference openness)

In his speech, Michaels talks about the poor application of safety incentives as well as a range of other related issues.

SafetyAtWorkBlog will include more reports on this conference later in the week.

Kevin Jones

Where’s the Sarbanes-Oxley for workplace safety?

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In 2002, after several corporate collapses, the United States government signed in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which was intended to establish business practices on accounting and auditing among other aims.  The Western world watched the introduction of this legislation and echoed many of the requirements in their own legislation and corporate oversight agencies.

It is likely in the wake of the global financial crisis that the United States (and Europe to a lesser extent) is entering another wave of corporate regulation or interference, depending on one’s politics.

These laws introduced substantial change to the management of businesses, the disclosure of information and the role of corporate executives.  When will this type of change include occupational safety and health?

Firstly, the United States’ safety professionals and regulators need to accept that their system of OHS legislation and enforcement is not “world’s best practice”.  There are major deficiencies in high-risk organisations and a misunderstanding of safety obligations at the shopfloor level.  These problems exist partly because of the structure and population of the country itself and also because there is so much baggage in its legal system that new perspectives in law are difficult to imagine.

A significant change in OHS law outside the United States is the issue of personal accountability for safety-related decisions.  There are few who complain about the jailing of CEOs and executives for the loss of money (their own and that of others) but there is a real barrier to jailing those same people when their management decisions led to a loss of life. Continue reading “Where’s the Sarbanes-Oxley for workplace safety?”

Shift work research findings are grounds for big concern

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A scientific symposium held in Canada in April 2010 has raised some serious concerns about the health impacts of shift work.  Some of the evidence has existed for a while but collecting it all together makes one wonder how companies can justify shift work in the face of such high risks to workers’ health.

From the evidence presented at the symposium, workers will be tired at work when working shift work and are more likely to be injured than those on day shift.  Some workers have an increased risk of breast cancer.  Foetal growth in some pregnant women may be impeded.  Circadian disruption may encourage the growth of tumours and an international agency is convinced sufficiently of the risks to determine that shift work itself is probably carcinogenic.

The Occupational Cancer Research Centre and the Institute for Work & Health should be applauded for making the evidence presented at the symposium publicly accessible.   Continue reading “Shift work research findings are grounds for big concern”

NSW Premier surprise guest at mining safety conference dinner

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In a closely guarded secret, New South Wales Premier, Kristina Keneally attended the safety conference of the New South Wales Minerals Council.  Keneally (pictured right) had previous attended NSWMC functions but in her capacity as the, then, Planning Minister.

Her speech contained a fair amount of politicking as one would expect from a politician in an election year but regrettably safety got less attention than one would expect.  The Premier spoke more generally about her government’s achievements under her leadership and how she was able to set, and enforce, clear performance benchmarks in the previous Planning portfolio.

Dr Nikki Williams NSWMC spoke very highly of the minister, as one would expect, but had to tread a fine line in complements so that she would not be seen as endorsing the Premier in an election year.  Williams instead praised the person and praised very highly.  Clearly there is a mutual respect between the two women that could proceed into a useful business/political relationship. Continue reading “NSW Premier surprise guest at mining safety conference dinner”