Workplace suicides require organisational analyses

Some media reports on the recent suicide of another Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer indicate a change away from the dominant perspective of addressing the individual worker rather than institutional factors.

This article is not denying that suicide is a personal decision.  It is an act that most of us do not understand and struggle to do so; this is partly because, unless a note is left or the person spoke to another about their intentions, we can never be sure why someone takes their own life.  As a colleague explained to me, we try to rationalise an irrational act, or at least an act that seemed rational to the person at the time.

The Australian Federal Police has had several

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If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

The trade union movement has often been instrumental in affecting and sometimes creating government policy on occupational health and safety (OHS).  The latest generation of hazards – psychosocial – can be traced back to a survey late last century of workplace stress conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).  This week the ACTU released its survey into sexual harassment at work.

The current survey should not be seen as representative of any social group other than trade union members even though the survey was completed by 10,000 of them.  Also, this survey is far less likely to be as newsworthy as last century’s surveys as the agenda on workplace sexual harassment has already been established by reports from groups like Universities Australia and, especially, the current work by the Sexual Discrimination Commissioner and the Australian Human Rights Commission.  It is also likely to be covered, probably as a secondary issue, in the various mental health inquiries scheduled for 2019.

The ACTU survey provides additional information to our understanding of sexual harassment at work but certainly not the whole picture.

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The measuring of culture creates debate

Today, Siobhan McHale, Head of HR at Dulux posted a comment and video on LinkedIn about measuring cultural change.  She introduces her post with:

“Can culture be measured? In my view it can and should be measured – in the same way as any other business activity that’s important to your success.”

The responses have been speedy and this conversation is likely to continue for sometime as McHale is monitoring the comments, some of which dispute McHale’s position.

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Share Solutions could be resurrected

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Some readers have asked for more information about the “Share Solutions” program mentioned in a previous article. The initiative started in 1988 but this article is based on the second edition from 1995.

In 1995, pre-internet, the precursor to WorkSafe Victoria, the Health and Safety Organisation Victoria produced a Share Solutions manual (with an unfortunate sex doll-like graphic).  This hard copy folders included single page solutions to common workplace hazards.  These solutions were submitted usually by those workers or Health and Safety Representatives who had developed a solution to a hazard particular to their workplace.  The solutions were shared with the program participants with acknowledgement of the origin. Continue reading “Share Solutions could be resurrected”

The future of the worker

There have been many inquiries and investigation in Australia and elsewhere about the “future of work” but rarely about the “future of the worker”.  Research often looks at how work may be transformed by technology and new labour/employment structures with an assumption that the worker is a passive and static element in this change.  Those in occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers’ rehabilitation know that this is not the case.

This article looks at one aspect of the future of the worker.

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