Another Australian Government inquiry into workplace health and safety (WHS) was announced on March 26 2018. According to the Senate Hansard, the Senate’s Education and Employment References Committee will report on a range of occupational health and safety (OHS) matters by the end of September 2018.
Occupational health and safety (OHS) policy makers are keen on making decisions based on evidence. But evidence seems hard to get, for many reasons.
Some people, including those in workplace relations and OHS, often fill the evidence gap with “anecdotal evidence”. Frequently people being interviewed are asked for evidence to substantiate their claims and respond that “anecdotally” there is a problem yet there is no sample size for this evidence, there is no clarity or definition of the incident or issue – it is simply “what I heard” or “what I’ve been told”. Using anecdotal evidence is okay as long as its inherent uncertainty is acknowledged and it is not used as a basis for substantial change.
In 2016, Professor Andrew Hopkins urged occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals to abandon safety culture. In the December 2016 edition of OHS Professional magazine ($), he writes further about this position.
Several of Hopkins’ statements make the reader stop, sit up and reflect. He writes
“What people do is something company leadership can indeed control, while what people think is neither here nor there“(page 28 – emphasis added).
POW!, there goes a lot of the safety training that is provided.
Recently the Victorian Women Lawyers conducted a seminar into the outcomes of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence. SafetyAtWorkBlog attended even though the topic seems, initially, to have a tenuous link to occupational health and safety (OHS). Family violence is relevant to OHS through its influence on workplace mental ill-health, productivity and the need for cultural…