The risks of having an OHS policy

If you ask a lawyer for advice about any issue related to occupational health and safety (OHS) their first piece of advice is likely to be “write a policy”.  There are good legal reasons for advocating a policy, but policies can also create major problems.  Policies are both a reflection of a workplace and the base on which improvements can be created.

Search for OHS policy guidance from the Victorian Government  and it takes you to a page that describes an OHS policy as

“Laws, regulations and compliance codes which set out the responsibilities of employers and workers to ensure that safety is maintained at work.”

NO it’s not.  The page also directs you to a WorkSafe page about insurance!

WorkSafe Tasmania

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If you don’t prevent, you perpetuate

Systematic approach to psychological health and safety

One of the most important occupational health and safety (OHS) guidances released the last couple of years is the Safe Work Australia (SWA) guide “Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties“, but its significance is not being universally embraced.

Recently Australian law firm, Minter Ellison, released an

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People Risk = OHS for Human Resource professionals

The Governance Institute of Australia hosted a discussion about “Corporate culture and people risk — lessons from the Royal Commission”.  The seminar was worthwhile attending but there was also moments of discomfort.

The reality was that The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was not discussed in any great detail as it was treated as a ghost hovering behind the discussion but not a scary ghost, almost a ghost of embarrassment.

And it seems that “People Risk” is what the Human Resource (HR) profession calls occupational health and safety (OHS) when it can’t bring itself to say occupational health and safety.

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Stop whingeing and manage OHS properly

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) regularly updates the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations administered by its Corporate Governance Council.  The Council has recently closed submissions on its consultation on the Fourth Edition.  The submissions are worth looking at to see how occupational health and safety (OHS) fairs, and it is also worth looking for mentions of the “social licence to operate”.

The 3rd edition of the principles provides examples of what it means to be a “good corporate citizen” (page 19),

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Michalak’s evidence should change the wellbeing and OHS industries

Dr Rebecca Michalak has only recently come to my attention, mainly through challenging some of my statements on social media.  I was able to meet her and watch her presentation at the Safety Institute of Australia’s National Health and Safety Conference in May 2018.  It is likely her voice will become heard more broadly in coming years as she challenges elements of the Establishment.

Many elements of Michalak’s conference presentation can also be heard in the Fit For Work Podcast of Sally McMahon but there were a couple of statements that were notable.

Coping Strategies

“I had a theory that it’s not either/or – it’s an “it depends” thing and what I found across all well-being outcomes, six coping strategies and two samples – that’s 48 mediations – it makes no difference and in fact, most coping strategies make well-being worse.” (emphasis added)

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