We need to ask tougher questions about FIFO

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On the recommendation of one of my subscribers I am currently listening to a podcast called Food For Thought which includes a discussion on the mental health issues associated with the Fly-In -Fly-Out (FIFO) work structure.  This article is being written as I listen to the podcast so follows the threads as spoken.

Various major Australian inquiries have been held into the occupational health and safety of FIFO workers for the mining sector. The potential psychological harm of FIFO is indisputable so why aren’t we asking the tough questions and thinking about the harm that we are allowing to occur?

Source: istockphoto

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Pfeffer cuts through on OHS

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“…if we truly care about human beings and their lives, including how long people live…. we need to first understand and then alter those workplace conditions that sicken and kill people” (page 25 – “Dying For A Paycheck”)

Jeffrey Pfeffer has been doing the rounds of the Safety and Human Resources conferences for some time, talking about “dying for a paycheck”.  This year he published a book of that title, a book that should be obligatory reading for occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals and, more importantly, company executives.

This book is one of the few that I have read from cover-to-cover and wanted to do so in as short a time as possible because I wanted to understand the big interconnected picture of business management and policy setting that Pfeffer discusses.

Pfeffer presents a lot of data packaged in a fresh and fascinating form but regularly complains about the lack of data.  One of the joys in the book is being tantalised by what data he presents but then being frustrated when realising that that is the extent of the data available.   Continue reading “Pfeffer cuts through on OHS”

Trade unions, jobs, safety and the future

The recently appointed Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Sally McManus, made a major speech at the National Press Club on 21 March 2018.  It was forecast to lots of media outlets the morning prior to the speech with selected quotes from McManus, flagging how significant the trade union movements consider this speech.

She made her pitch by reiterating the Australian belief in fairness, the “fair go” and said this is based on two things – “having a job you can count on, and fair pay.” Having a “safe job” was sort-of mentioned in the speech but usually in political terms.  It will be interesting how this speech fits with the anticipated speech for International Workers’ Memorial Day in just over a month’s time.

Six trade union achievements were mentioned but workplace health and safety was not

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Hyperbole over new OHS Standard

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The hyperbole about ISO45001 keeps coming now that the International Standard for Occupational Health and Management Systems has been finalised and due for publication on March 18 2018.

On February 1 2018, Vic Toy, chair of the US technical advisory group is quoted in EHS Today:

“ISO45001 is one of the most significant developments in workplace safety over the past 50 years, presenting an opportunity to move the needle on reducing occupational health and safety risks…..

The goal was to create a widely accepted standard that can produce a highly effective safety and health management system for an increasingly interconnected world, regardless of an organisation’s size, location, supply chains or nature of work.  It becomes a minimum standard of practice, and a good one at that.”

ISO45001 does have great potential for change but primarily in those countries that have no such standard already and where OHS laws are under-developed or poorly enforced. Continue reading “Hyperbole over new OHS Standard”

Industrial Manslaughter arguments cover old ground

The Queensland Government is in the middle of a debate in Parliament and the media about the introduction of industrial manslaughter as an offence related to serious occupational health and safety (OHS) breaches.  It is both a good and a bad time for this debate. The laws are likely to pass but the debate is showing old arguments, weak arguments, political expediency and union-bashing but not a lot about improvement in workplace safety.


Following two major fatal workplace incidents, in April 2017 the Government established an

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