Being a member of a local safety group provides nuggets of occupational health and safety (OHS) information from speakers and members in a broad range of industries and occupations. The May 2017 meeting of the Central Safety Group at which Wayne Richards spoke provoked several OHS thoughts about safety, leadership and culture. One was that Transdev…
By Melody Kemp
Asbestos resembles polio. Just when you think it’s beaten, it returns like some ghoul. If you think this is overly dramatic, last year Laos was struck by a polio outbreak. This year we learned that Laos now ranks amongst the globe’s major importers of asbestos. And it’s driven by cynical market forces targeting poorer nations, inadvertently promoted by international aid. Continue reading “Asbestos – out of sight but not out of mind in Asia”
The latest broadcast in Safe Work Australia’s Virtual Safety Seminar (VSS) series is aimed at the executive level of management and entitled “Why big business needs to lead work health and safety“. One of the attractions of the VSS is that Safe Work Australia is able to draw upon senior and prominent business leaders who do not often talk occupational health and safety.
Several important perspectives were discussed that would be helpful to the intended audience but there were also some comments that deserve contemplation.
The current edition of SouthAsia magazine has a short report on occupational health and safety (OHS) in Bangladesh that illustrate the political and social challenges for workers and citizens in a country. The article, “Poor Workplace Safety” (not available online) states that government data for 2016 list more than 1,225 workers killed and over 500 injured. After these figures, and the fact that Bangladesh has a history of catastrophic workplace disasters, the author, Mohammad Waqar Bilal, states
“In fact, the issue of workers’ safety has never been considered by the government on a priority basis.”
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 ($), he writes further about this position.
Several of Hopkins’ statements make the reader stop, sit up and reflect. He writes
“What people do is something company leadership can indeed control, while what people think is neither here nor there“(page 28 – emphasis added).
POW!, there goes a lot of the safety training that is provided.
Over the Christmas break I was cleaning out some files and found some old SafetyAtWork podcast files that used to be on iTunes around a decade ago. The information and perspectives remain important and to preserve the files I have uploaded them to SoundCloud.
One is an interview with Professor Michael Quinlan shortly after the Beaconsfield mine inquiry. The other is a presentation to the Central Safety Group by freelance journalist Gideon Haigh about the corporate approach to asbestos and compensation off the back of the publication of his Asbestos House book.
More will be posted over the next few weeks.
The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster has faded to become another safety leadership failure to be discussed in the OHS and risk management courses but some new research ($ paywall) in Critical Perspectives on Accounting provides a fresh perspective on BP’s safety culture and leadership prior to the major disaster by deconstructing the speeches of the the then-CEO, Tony Hayward.
“At no time in history have there been better processes and procedures in workplace safety and at no time in history have there been more certified safety professionals but at the same time the number of workplace incidents keep rising across the board.”
Any salesman is allowed some hyperbole but the last point does not stack up and is a bit confusing. For instance workplace fatalities have been declining in Australia for some decades but new work-related hazards are being acknowledged and existing hazards that were once dismissed are now being addressed. The number of certified occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals is irrelevant as the laws have existed for much longer and it is the laws with which employers must comply, not the advice of the OHS professional.
But Kevin Burns talks specifically about the number of workplace incidents and this is almost impossible to quantify.
Just after I purchased Kevin’s book I received a research paper entitled “
Following, ostensibly, the Four Corners exposé of labour hire exploitation in Australia last year, the Victorian Government established an inquiry. That Inquiry’s final report has been released with lots of recommendations, several pertaining to occupational health and safety (OHS). The Government’s media release response is HERE. The main recommendations related to OHS are: I recommend…
Cost is the last consideration in occupational health and safety (OHS) but is usually the first consideration in all other decisions. “Can we afford to improve something? No. So let’s do something else”. There is something fundamentally skewed in determining the cost-benefit analysis when it comes to workplace safety. For several years Safe Work Australia (SWA)…