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”

Professor Niki Ellis hits out at the state of OHS in Australia

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“…OHS is not fit for the 21st century.  It is isolated, has a limited academic base and remit, uneven provision, lack of good quality data, a poor image and is perceived by many as the servant of the employer.”

Professor Niki Ellis speaks frankly about the OHS discipline in Australia.

Professor Niki Ellis recently was appointed the CEO of the Institute of Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) after some time in the United Kingdom and a short period as the acting chair of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.  Prof Ellis provided a refreshing and confronting presentation to the 2009 Comcare Conference (pictured right) that SafetyAtWorkBlog attended. Continue reading “Professor Niki Ellis hits out at the state of OHS in Australia”

Bank CEO says he ‘can’t really have work-life balance’

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Mike Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the ANZ Bank provided some insights into his life as a senior executive at a conference in Sydney on 21 April 2010.  The most exciting information was a brief description of the assassination attempt on his life while working in South America but, in the context of health and safety, he also reveals a few nuggets of information.

Smith’s conference presentation was reported in the Australian Financial Review (article only available to subscribers) on 22 April 2010.  He states as a CEO “you can’t really have work-life balance”. Continue reading “Bank CEO says he ‘can’t really have work-life balance’”

Australian safety conference – confused but in a good way

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Day 2 of the Safety In Action Conference is almost over and I am confused.  Some speakers say that safety cannot be improved without commitment from the most senior executives of a company.  Others are saying that safety improvement can be best achieved by trusting employees.

One speaker questioned the validity of the risk management approach to safety.  A colleague argued that this was not a return to prescriptive legislation, regulation and codes of practice but an opportunity for companies to assess their needs and set their own “rules” of compliance based on the risk assessment results, effectively determining their own level of OHS compliance.

Another speaker speculated that a particular Federal Minister may have been prosecuted under the model Work Health & Safety Act if Ministers had not been excluded from their duty of care.

Some see new the OHS laws as revolutionary, others see it as tweaking a legislative approach that is over 30 years old.

Some speakers I found thought-provoking, others thought these were facile and had lousy PowerPoint skills.

What this Safety In Action Conference in Australia has not been is dull.   Continue reading “Australian safety conference – confused but in a good way”