Day One – more useful than not

A short report on Day One* of the Australian Institute of Health and Safety’s (AIHS) National Conference in Melbourne. Given a previous blog article asking for new thinking, new approaches etc. Has the Day One satisfied me? Selectively, Yes.

The keynote speaker, Richard De Crespigny had an extraordinary tale to tell about safely landing a heavily damaged passenger aircraft over a decade ago. Some delegates would have been familiar with De Crespigny’s presentation as many of his points had already been made in a recent article in the AIHS’ journal. More on his presentation in a future article.

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World Day of Health and Safety – Climate Change

The need for occupational health and safety (OHS) to adapt to the changing (deteriorating) global climate has long been discussed. This discussion may spike later this month with this year’s World Day of Health and Safety theme, the somewhat fatalistic “Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate“. Rather than look closely at the ILO global report on this issue, clearer discussion may be found in the latest edition of HesaMag with its special report on “Workers and the climate challenge” from the European Trade Union Institute.

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RUOK? needs a refresh

RUOK? Day is held in September each year in Australia. The workplace suicide awareness campaign has been very successful, but over time, I have observed a decline in effectiveness, certainly at the local communication level. It may be a victim of its own success as almost all awareness campaigns struggle to maintain their original freshness. Perhaps it is time for a change. Perhaps that change is being forced upon us.

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Softly, Softly, Catch the Monkey

As with most political party conferences, occupational health and safety (OHS) is a fringe issue. OHS or safety is sometimes mentioned in the big political speeches but often as an afterthought or obligatory mention that is rarely explored to the extent it deserves. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) recently held its national conference in Brisbane. Work health and safety was mentioned.

The ALP Conference is not intended to change Australian government policies. Its aim is to review and revise the ALP Party platform; it drops what may be redundant and improves the policy platform’s relevance. The conference may indicate party member concerns to the parliamentary members, but the government’s positions are for the parliamentary members to decide.

It should come as no surprise that the ALP has again refrained from banning the import and use of engineered stone even though the silicosis risks are well-established.

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“occupational health is distinct from safety”

Professors Helen Lingard and Michelle Turner have just published a book that was long in development called “Work, Health and Wellbeing in the Construction Industry“. The best advice for reading this book is, for most readers, to ignore the construction context. This book is extremely topical for all industries in Australia as it considers gender, well-being, psychosocial hazards, working hours, resilience and more, but most importantly health.

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Employers’ continuing “intolerable laxity”

Recently a discussion of occupational health and safety (OHS) in Australia’s construction industry during COVID-19 lockdowns was published. “What’s it going to take? Lessons Learned from COVID-19 and worker mental health in the Australian construction industry” is thankfully “open access” and well worth reading for its strong and controversial OHS recommendations, but it could have paid more attention to the role of the employers or Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) in applying legislative OHS obligations and how their resistance continues to harm workers.

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