Worker democracy reappears and OHS needs to be ready

Tripartite consultation of occupational health and safety (OHS) is largely a relic of the past. It remains in the structure of government policy formulation and in workplace safety legislation but, largely due to the decline in trade union presence in Australian workplaces; OHS consultation occurs more linearly than through formalised tripartism.

A recent example of contemporary consultation, that is likely to include OHS, was reported on in The Guardian newspaper on 17 July 2016. The incoming UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, wants to encourage the inclusion of a worker on company boards.  It is a curious suggestion from a Conservative Prime Minister which has been leapt on as “workplace democracy” by some commentators. The workplace democracy or “industrial democracy” push is not a new idea and was once seriously proposed in 1977 but, according to an article in The Conversation, the political time was not right.  Whether that time is now is debatable. Continue reading “Worker democracy reappears and OHS needs to be ready”

When culture has an agenda

The topic of culture is a critical consideration in the improvement of occupational health and safety (OHS). Each company should be aiming for a an active and healthy workplace and safety culture but the term “culture” continues to be difficult to define and poorly understood by the community.

SafetyAtWorkBlog has written about the culture discussion as it relates to

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Workplace Bullying needs a broad and integrated approach

Recently, through LinkedIn, a Human Resources (HR) professional wrote an article that busted some myths about workplace bullying.  It is a useful article but also illustrates that HR and occupational health and safety (OHS) still have some way to go before providing a coordinated approach to workplace bullying and the mental health issues that contribute to the psychosocial hazard.

Continue reading “Workplace Bullying needs a broad and integrated approach”

Are OHS professionals on the ‘B’ Ark?

In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Douglas Adams has a character tell a story of a ship of middle managers being sent from a supposedly doomed plant to colonise a new world.  The ‘B’ Ark contains millions of

“Hairdressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, management consultants,….”

I think occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals are lucky they were not included in the list because many people consider OHS professionals to be little more than a nuisance.   Continue reading “Are OHS professionals on the ‘B’ Ark?”

OHS is not broken but does need attention

Recently an article was posted on SHPOnline called “Health and safety needs a re-brand“.  The article by Anna Keen ties in with the Safety Differently or Safety 1-Safety 2 movements but needs to be considered carefully.

The street interviews were conducted in England where occupational health and safety (OHS) has undergone such a slagging off by the tabloid media that the Health and Safety Executive had to devote resources to countering the misrepresentation of OHS.  This misrepresentation has been occurring since the mid-2000s.  The video in the article is conformation of the success of the tabloid media outrage that even led to a pathetic attempt at comedy at OHS’s expense.

OHS, particularly in the United Kingdom but less so in Australia, has a perception problem which is clear from the video but will re-branding be enough?  

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Suicide Prevention Forum and Mental Health First Aid for workers

In March 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its latest figures into the causes of death. A lot of media attention was given to the figures showing an increase in the suicide rate.  It found that

“Among those aged 15 to 44, the leading causes of death were Intentional self-harm (suicide)…”

Dr Claire Kelly, Manager, Youth Programs, Mental Health First Aid Australia, talking at the Suicide Prevention Forum 2016
Dr Claire Kelly, Manager, Youth Programs, Mental Health First Aid Australia, talking at the Suicide Prevention Forum 2016

On the day those figures were released, the

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Safety is the first agenda item but the last consideration

It is a common business activity to include Safety as an agenda item in all meetings.  This is intended to show that a company sees Safety as an integral component of all business decisions. But such an action can also be used to dismiss Safety by those who do not see it as related to production or the production program.

Some years ago I was an occupational health and safety (OHS) adviser for a client on a construction project. The project had Safety as the first item of business on the weekly progress meeting.  I was invited to attend and contribute.  The Project Manager opened the meeting, asked if anyone had a “Safety Share”, and then advised that the project had had no incidents in the previous week.

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If you build it, they will come

Cover of SIA_draft_Strategic_Plan_ConsulationThe Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) continues to rebuild its reputation and its credibility.  In February 2016 it released a draft Strategic Planning Framework and is seeking public comment. (Consultation closes on March 25)  A major difference in this approach is that the SIA is encouraging this draft plan to be distributed widely, outside of the SIA’s membership and is seeking comments from non-members.  The SIA has never been known for its transparency and this new openness is to be applauded.

Interested parties are encouraged to provide the SIA with as much feedback as possible on the draft framework. Continue reading “If you build it, they will come”